Yeager, Walton et al. 2016, Experiment 3-Cultural Fit: Reflecting on stories about cultural fit in college in an online, prematriculation exercise improved GPA and promoted social and academic integration among minority and first-generation college students over the first year of college.
A cultural-fit intervention was delivered in online modules alongside other entrance forms in the summer before students entered a selective private university. Participants were 90%+ of the entering class. In the treatment condition, stories from older students emphasized that college is a place where people can maintain an interdependent self-concept—maintain interdependent ties with people back home and join new interdependent communities on campus. Students read the stories and then wrote an essay about how they anticipated their experience in college would develop along the themes emphasized. As compared to a randomized control condition, this exercise, along with social-belonging and wise-feedback interventions, increased the first-year GPAs of negatively stereotyped ethnic-minority and first-generation White college students, reducing the achievement gap by 31%, and reduced the percentage of these students in the bottom quarter of the class in the first year from 50% to 37%. At the end of the first year, treatment-condition minority and first-generation students also reported making more close friends, getting more involved in extracurricular activities, seeking out academic support services more, and being more likely to have developed strong mentor relationships.