Research: Short Online Interventions Can Improve Student Achievement
Researchers at Stanford University
and the University of Texas, Austin
studied the effect of short, online interventions on high school students at
risk of dropping out and found that students' grade point averages increased
after only two 45-minute sessions.
The researchers used two types of online interventions, one involving the
development of a "growth mindset" and the other involving the development of a
"sense of purpose."
The growth mindset is the belief that intelligence can be developed rather
than being fixed at birth, and that struggling through challenging tasks is an
opportunity to improve intelligence. In the study, researchers asked the
students to read an article about the brain's ability to grow intellectually
through hard work and effective academic strategies.
The sense-of-purpose intervention asked students to write about how they
thought the world could be a better place; to read stories about the effect of
academic achievement on their ability to make a positive impact on the world;
and to think about how school could help them achieve their goals.
The study involved 1,594 students in 13 high schools and measured changes in
their grades in core academic subjects. "The results showed that among students
at risk for dropping out (one-third of the sample), both interventions raised
grade-point-averages and increased the rate at which the students performed
satisfactorily in each course by 6.4 percentage points," according to
information from Stanford University.
"If our short, Web-based activities can help students see school as a place
where they can grow their abilities and become the kind of person they want to
be, and if that change in perspective makes students more motivated and
successful, then it seems likely that there are many opportunities in the
classroom to send these messages to better engage students," said David
Paunesku, a behavioral scientist and lead author on the paper.
To help teachers implement these interventions in the classroom, the Project for Education Research that Scales
(PERTS), an applied research center at Stanford University, is developing the
Mindset Kit, a free, online
curriculum to help teach the "growth mindset." The Mindset Kit is currently in
Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.