Research at PERTS

Our team produces groundbreaking research that sheds light on the insights and practices educators can leverage to promote equitable student success. We continue to validate and test these findings in all of the work that we do.

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Our research has been published in the world’s top behavioral science journals.


Our research isn’t run in a lab—hundreds of thousands of students have participated in our research projects.

Impact focused

Our programs have reduced failure rates, raised GPAs, decreased dropout rates, and mitigated opportunity gaps.

Selected Research

A Social-Belonging Intervention Improves STEM Outcomes for Students Who Speak English as a Second Language.  

A social-belonging intervention improved the STEM performance and persistence for undergraduate students who speak English as a second language (ESL), in line with previous research showing the positive impact of belonging interventions on persistence for underrepresented groups of students.

LaCosse, J., Canning, E. A., Bowman, N. A., Murphy, M. C., & Logel, C. (2020). A social-belonging intervention improves STEM outcomes for students who speak English as a second language. Science advances, 6(40), eabb6543.

A National Experiment Reveals Where a Growth Mindset Improves Achievement  

A nationally representative, randomized control trial of Growth Mindset for 9th Graders showed that this brief mindset program supported students' development of a growth mindset and fostered higher academic effort. Students who were initially off-track (GPA below 2.0) became 5.3% more likely to get on-track if they were randomly assigned to complete this program.

Yeager, D.S., Hanselman, P., Walton, G.M. et al. (2019). A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement. Nature 573, 364–369 (2019)

Mindset Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underperformance  

Presents results from a randomized controlled trial in which a brief growth mindset intervention and a brief purpose for learning intervention raised academic achievement among students at-risk for dropping out of high school.

Paunesku, D., Walton, G.M., Romero, C.L., Smith, E.N., Yeager, D.S., & Dweck, C.S. (2015). Mindset Interventions are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement. Psychological Science.

A Brief Intervention to Encourage Empathic Discipline Cuts Suspension Rates in Half Among Adolescents  

A series of studies demonstrated that a punitive approach to discipline can exacerbate student misbehavior. Study 3 was an RCT of a brief, online professional development activity for teachers. The activity promoted a more empathic approach to discipline and cut student suspension rates by 50%.

Okonofua, J.A., Paunesku, D., & Walton, G.M. (in press). A Brief Intervention to Encourage Empathic Discipline Cuts Suspension Rates in Half Among Adolescents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Teaching a lay theory before college narrows achievement gaps at scale  

Lay theory interventions raised first-year full-time college enrollment among students from socially and economically disadvantaged backgrounds exiting a high-performing charter high school network or entering a public flagship university (experiments 1 and 2) and, at a selective private university, raised disadvantaged students’ cumulative first-year grade point average (experiment 3).

Yeager, D. S., Walton, G. M., Brady, S. T., Akcinar, E. N., Paunesku, D., Keane, L., Kamentz, D., Ritter, G., Duckworth, A. L., Urstein, R., Gomez E., Markus, H. R. Cohen, G. L., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Using design thinking to improve psychological interventions: The case of the growth mindset during the transition to high school  

A randomized controlled trial replicated the results of Paunesku et al. (2015). It reaffirmed that direct-to-student mindset interventions can raise high school GPA for initially low- performing students. The article presents a design-thinking process that was used to improve the intervention.

Yeager, D. S., Romero, C., Paunesku, D., Hulleman, C. S., Schneider, B., Hinojosa, C., ... & Trott, J. (2016). Using Design Thinking to Improve Psychological Interventions: The Case of the Growth Mindset During the Transition to High School. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 374.

Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement  

An analysis of a public use dataset containing mindset surveys scores, math and language standardized test scores, and family income from all public school 10th graders in the nation of Chile showed that a growth mindset is beneficial to the test scores of all students and especially important for the test scores of low income students.

Claro, S., Paunesku, D., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Growth Mindset Tempers the Effects of Poverty on Academic Achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201608207.

Boring but Important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation  

A number of studies demonstrate that students are more motivated when they possess a "purpose for learning" — when they understand how learning today will help them accomplish meaningful goals in the future.

Yeager, D.S., Henderson, H., Paunesku, D., Walton, G.M., D’Mello, S. Spitzer, B.J., & Duckworth, A.L. (2014). Boring but Important: A Self-transcendent Purpose for Learning Fosters Academic Self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(4), 559-580.

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