Note: Thank you for your interest in ADVANCE Project TRACS, our NSF funded Institutional Transformational Grant which ended August 31, 2017. The pages that follow are historical documents for informational purposes only.

Project TRACS: An Empirical Investigation of Transformation through Relatedness, Autonomy, and Competence Support

Pictures of the Social Science Research Team

From left to right: Top row - Liz Shanahan, Political Science, Monica Skewes, Psychology, Joy Honea, MSU-Billings, Sociology, Rebecca Belou, Office of Planning & Analysis, Jessi Smith, Psychology (Team Lead). Bottom row - Sara Rushing, Political Science, Leila Sterman, Library, Kristen Intemann, Philosophy, Ian Handley, Psychology, Bryce Hughes, Education.

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Data Charrettes:Charette

Data Charrettes (poster sessions) were held each year by the Social Science Research Team to share progress on the initiatives, social science research, and results from the yearly faculty climate surveys.

April 26, 2016 Campus Climate Data Charrette Posters and Feedback
April 28, 2015 Campus Climate Data Charrette Posters and Feedback 
April 15, 2014 Campus Climate Data Charrette Posters and Feedback 
April 9, 2013 Campus Climate Data Charrette Posters and Feedback

Research Objective 1: Test the extent to which institutional, departmental, and individual markers predict gender cultural transformation among MSU faculty and administrators

Research Objective 2: Test the dynamic and complex ways in which fostering competence, autonomy, and relatedness needs can bring about cultural transformation at MSU. Here we test the fit of an “Additive model” whereby initiatives will have an additive positive effect on the three needs for both faculty and administrators resulting in cultural transformation compared to a “Specialized model” whereby each initiative will have unique and independent positive effects on a particular need for particular people

Research Objective 3: Test the effectiveness of each of the “Enhancing Cultural Attunement” initiative components

Self Determination Theory and Basic Psychological Need-support

Project TRACS used self-determination theory (SDT) ( as the organizing framework for the selection of three initiatives: Enhancing Research Capacity and Opportunity, Enhancing Work-Life Integration, and Enhancing Cultural Attunement. A self-determined environment supports the (universal) psychological needs of people to make meaningful connections with others (relatedness), have flexibility and control over processes and outcomes (autonomy), and engage in opportunities for learning and mastery (competency) (Deci & Ryan, 1985). The theory suggests, and empirical data support, that when these three basic needs of relatedness, autonomy, and competence are satisfied, job satisfaction improves, organizational trust and loyalty increase, and creativity, motivation and performance thrive (Deci & Ryan, 2000).

Figure 1:
The SDT Process of Cultural Transformation

The SDT Process of Cultural Transformation

We predicted that a need-supported climate, targeted at broadening the participation of women in STEM/SBS, will engender institutional cultural transformation benefiting all campus community members (See Figure 1). Thus, SDT not only supported our hypothesis driven initiative generation, but also provided a theoretical pathway to study the process of cultural transformation. We assessed not only the outcomes of the transformative initiatives (did the program work?), but the process of transformation over time (why did it work?). An innovative appeal of Project TRACS was our goal of understanding the dynamic and complex ways in which fostering competence, autonomy, and relatedness brought about institutional cultural transformation.