Research has found that college students taking developmental or gateway courses often fail to complete them or attain a degree. This four-year study is evaluating whether a 30-minute online module that describes a growth mindset can improve the persistence and academic success of students enrolled in developmental or gateway mathematics courses at community colleges.
A growth mindset is the belief that intelligence is something a person can develop through deliberate effort and practice. This mindset has been shown to correlate with positive academic behaviors and to increase resilience and persistence. In the online module, students read an article explaining how brain functioning improves when people confront new challenges, engage multiple learning strategies, and seek out advice. Students then complete several writing activities to internalize the article’s message.
The research team is partnering with 17 open- and broad-access community colleges in California and Indiana. Participating students are randomly assigned to complete either the growth mindset module or a module describing the structures of the brain. Building off a previous study that found positive effects after one semester, the team is tracking the module’s long-term impacts on students' academic outcomes, perceptions about intellect, and rate of degree completion or transfer to 4-year colleges.
Study period: 2015–19 (Cohort 1 implementation: 2014–15; Cohort 2 implementation: 2015–16; follow-up: 2017–19)
This project is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R305A150253 to Stanford University.