A Scalable Growth Mindset Intervention to Raise Achievement and Persistence in Community College

About the Research Study

A Scalable Growth Mindset Intervention to Raise Achievement and Persistence in Community College

About the Research Study

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.

About the Research Team

A Scalable Growth Mindset Intervention to Raise Achievement and Persistence in Community College

About the Research Team

The Project for Education Research that Scales (PERTS) helps educators apply insights from the behavioral sciences in order to foster student motivation and success on a large scale. PERTS ran the first large-scale experiments to test learning mindset programs, and it now supports the implementation of these programs through a network of nearly 200 postsecondary institutions.

The College Transition Collaborative (CTC) bridges research and practice to help colleges create learning environments that foster equitable student engagement and success. Our work helps schools understand how their students experience moments of transition or difficulty, and how psychologically attuned practices, messages, policies, behaviors, and programs can convey to all students that they are valued and respected and that they can excel.

Research Team Members

A Scalable Growth Mindset Intervention to Raise Achievement and Persistence in Community College

Research Team Members
Photo of Gregory Walton
Gregory Walton, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology and Michael Forman University Fellow in Undergraduate Education
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Photo of Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck, Ph.D.
Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology
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Photo of Thomas Dee
Thomas Dee, Ph.D.
Professor of Education and Senior Fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research
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Photo of Dave Paunesku
Dave Paunesku, Ph.D.
Executive Director, PERTS Lab
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Photo of Sarah Gripshover
Sarah Gripshover, Ph.D.
Director of Research, PERTS Lab
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