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Murphy et al., under review: Reflecting on stories about common challenges to belonging increased likelihood of enrollment and academic performance among socially disadvantaged students over six months to two years


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A version of the social-belonging intervention (Walton & Cohen, 2011) adapted for a broad access university was delivered in classes in the second semester of the first year of college. Students read stories from senior students describing how 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 extensive interviews with senior students. Students read the stories and then wrote an essay about how their experience in college so far reflected the process described. As compared to a randomized control condition, this exercise, increased the percentage of socially disadvantaged students (African Americans, Latinos, and first-generation college students) who maintained enrollment over the next two years by 9 percentage-points, from 60% in the control condition to 69% in the intervention condition. In addition, disadvantaged students earned higher GPAs the next semester in the treatment than control condition, reducing the raw achievement gap by 22%.

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