Gopalan has three key strands of research: (1) investigation of causes and consequences of racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in education and health, broadly defined; (2) application of behavioral insights to inform policy design and analysis aimed at mitigating disparities in schools and colleges; and (3) research that examines the interconnectedness of health and educational policies from a life-course perspective. In all, she is interested in conducting interdisciplinary, policy-relevant research examining health and educational equity using experimental and quasi-experimental research methods.
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Evaluates a randomized intervention aimed at bolstering first-year students’ sense of belonging at a broad-access university (N = 1,063). Increases the likelihood that racial-ethnic minority and first-generation students maintained continuous enrollment over the next two academic years relative to multiple control groups.
Focuses on how behavioral insights used by governments at all levels can improve the delivery of governmental services and improve compliance and use of government services by the public. Reviews recent trends in policy initiatives that specifically incorporate behavioral insights in the US and outline a framework for integrating behavioral insights into policy design and analysis.
Explores the discipline gap between Black and White students and between Hispanic and White students using a statewide student-level panel data set on Indiana public school students attending prekindergarten through 12th grade from 2008–2009 through 2013–2014. Demonstrates that the Black-White disciplinary gaps, defined in a variety of ways and robust to a series of specification tests, emerge as early as in prekindergarten and widen.
Discusses despite reporting high levels of belonging pre- and post-COVID, consistent with past research, underrepresented racial/ethnic minority/first-generation students reported relatively lower sense of belonging compared to peers. Mentions feelings of belonging buffered depressive symptoms and to a lesser extent anxiety amidst COVID among all students.
Examines whether the ACA’s Medicaid expansions influenced child development and family functioning in low-income households. Finds that the ACA Medicaid expansions improved children’s reading test scores by approximately 2 percent (0.04 SD).
Finds that parents' self-reported health status improved significantly post-expansion in states that expanded Medicaid through the ACA by 4 percentage points (p < 0.05), a 4.7% improvement. Discovers no significant changes in children's use of routine doctor visits or parents' assessment of their children's health status. Observes modest decreases in children's body mass index (BMI) of about 2%.