The Science of Parenting Speaker Series


How can my children grow up to be happy and successful?  Am I doing this right? How can I do better?

Nearly all parents ask ourselves these questions.  But a lot of the answers we get come from popular sources, not actual science.  What does rigorous research have to say?

The “Science of Parenting” is a new speaker series that will share the latest science being conducted at the University of Texas at Austin and around the country on issues that matter to parents. It will involve interesting and accessible talks in a comfortable setting, with plenty of time for Q&A and discussion.

For the current school year, the speaker series will be open to guests who RSVP until we meet capacity, because this year it will be held in schools in AISD. Appetizers and drinks will be provided. All costs are covered by the University of Texas at Austin.

Please email with any questions.

Upcoming Events:

Check back regularly for updates to the 2018-2019 Science of Parenting schedule!


Previous Events:

February 19th, 2018 at 6:30pm

“Motivating mindsets: How to respond to success and failure so children learn and grow”

Presented by Dr. Kyla Haimovitz

Children’s mindsets about intelligence (as a quality they can grow vs. a trait they cannot change) have a big impact on their motivation and learning. How do adults foster “growth mindsets” in children? One might assume that adults act in ways that communicate their own mindsets to children. However, new research shows that many parents and teachers with growth mindsets are not passing them on. In this talk, Dr. Kyla Haimovitz will present a new perspective on why this is the case, and discuss research on adult behaviors that do instill growth mindsets in children.

September 28th, 2016 at 7:30pm

“The Homework Debate: What Parents Should Know”

Presented by Dr. Erika Patall

For most parents and kids, the start of a new school year in the fall means a start to nightly homework. It also means a new start to old debates about homework. Is homework even effective? For which students? How much homework? What kind of homework? And how should parents be involved? From media to teachers, parents, and kids, there is no shortage of opinions on the topic.

In this Science of Parenting talk, Dr. Patall will discuss the homework debate from the perspective of a research synthesist, providing concrete recommendations for the role parents can play in homework.

Dr. Erika Patall is a psychologist who focuses on student motivation, learning, and educational practice, both in and outside the classroom. She is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin.

Visit her lab website to find more about her current work or check out the slides from her Science of Parenting presentation here.

May 25th, 2016 at 7:30pm 

“From Play Dates to Prom: Research-Based Advice to Parents about Talking to Children about Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation”

Presented by Dr. Rebecca Bigler

Most parents want to raise children who treat individuals fairly regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Research suggests, however, that children whose parents do not talk about race, gender, and sexual orientation typically fall short of these goals. Indeed, youth often show evidence of stereotyping and prejudice and sometimes even (incorrectly) assume that their parents share their biases.kid pic

In this Science of Parenting talk, Dr. Bigler will provide concrete recommendations concerning when and how to talk to youth about gender, race, and sexual orientation with the goal of raising children who embrace diversity and are successful at building relationships with others from backgrounds unlike their own.

Dr. Rebecca Bigler is a developmental psychologist who focuses on the causes and consequences of social stereotyping and prejudice among children, with a particular focus on gender and racial attitudes. Ze is a Professor of Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies at The University of Texas at Austin.

Visit hir faculty website to learn more about current work.

November 7, 2015 at 5:30pm

“How can we talk to our children about race?”

Presented by Dr. Kristin Pauker and Dr. Yamanda Wright 


The United States in the 21st century is more diverse and multi-cultural than ever before. But parents don’t always have enough advice on how to prepare our children to thrive in diverse settings. This “Science of Parenting” talk will involve the latest science on this important topic.

Dr. Kristin Pauker is a social and developmental psychologist who specializes in the psychology of talking (or not talking) about race.  She was a post-doctoral scholar at Stanford University, she earned her PhD at Tufts University, and is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Hawaii. Her research has been profiled by the New York Times, Time Magazine, Scientific American, and other outlets.

Visit her lab website to learn more about current work:

Dr. Yamanda Wright, a recent graduate from the developmental psychology area at the University of Texas at Austin, conducted research on the same topics.  Dr. Wright is currently a data scientist at Texas Appleseed.

Read more here:

For additional background, see this Anderson Cooper CNN story:

Future Talks:

TBD: “Praise and other feedback to children: When can it backfire?” Presented by Dr. David Yeager

TBD: “Brain plasticity in childhood: When is the brain most capable of change?” Presented by Dr. Jess Church-Lang