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Yeager, Walton, et al., 2016, Experiment 1-Social Belonging: Reflecting on stories about common challenges to belonging in the transition to college in an online, prematriculation exercise increased enrollment, persistence, and social and academic integration among minority and first-generation high school students


Yeager, D. S., Walton, G. M., Brady, S. T., Akcinar, E. N., Paunesku, D., Keane, L., ... & Gomez, E. M. (2016). Teaching a lay theory before college narrows achievement gaps at scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201524360.
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A version of the social-belonging intervention (Walton & Cohen, 2011) adapted for students exiting high-performance urban charter schools was delivered in an online module in May of students’ senior year of high school in high school computer labs. Participants 90%+ of the graduating class of the relevant high schools. They were almost all African American and first-generation college students entering 70+ mostly low-selectivity 2 and 4-year colleges. In the treatment condition, stories from older students emphasized that it is normal to worry at first about whether you belong in college and this improves with time. The stories were redeveloped from Walton and Cohen (2011) following an extensive design process with charter school graduates. Students read and heard the stories read aloud by older students. They 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 increased the percentage of students who stayed full-time enrolled in college in their first year from 32% to 43%. It also increased the percentage of students who chose to live on campus, who used academic support services, and who joined student groups, a composite of which mediated the effect on college persistence. Simultaneously, a growth-mindset of intelligence intervention delivered in the same context was not effective, perhaps because the charter schools had already taught growth-mindset ideas.

Psychological Process:

Psychological Process 2:


What is the Person Trying to Understand?

What Desired Meaning is At Stake?

What Desired Meaning is At Stake?

What About it?

Approach to Desired Meaning

Approach to Desired Meaning


Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Question Addressed

Psychological Process 3:

Social Area:

Intervention Technique:

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Posted By:

Greg Walton & Timothy Wilson