Document Type


Publication Date

April 2019

Publication Title



Growth mindset and belonging interventions have shown to be effective in increasing retention and performance in some K-12 and postsecondary populations. These interventions hold the promise of cost-effective and scalable interventions that may be able to boost retention and graduation rates, and close the achievement gap that often exists between underrepresented (URM) students and non-URMs.A study of the impact of growth mindset and belonging interventions was designed and implemented in the 2015-2016 academic year in an Introduction to Engineering Course typically taken in the freshman year of all engineering and technology programs at a large comprehensive public university. The interventions were adapted from prior successful interventions by established researchers. Preliminary results upon the conclusion of the Spring 2016 semester showed that the interventions had different effects on different demographic groups. The belonging intervention resulted in higher course performance compared to the control group among the men and non-URMs in the study, controlling for instructor, high school GPA, and SAT math score. Curiously, the growth mindset intervention resulted in lower course performance among women in the study, also controlling for the same possible pre-existing differences. Neither intervention appeared to influence the URM students course performance. Currently, we have 5 semesters of retention and progress-to-degree data for this cohort (N = 441). Prior work with these interventions have registered long-term effects of subtle interventions, and it is our hope that there will be measurable effects on metrics of student progress and success that linger past the intervention.


This article was originally presented at the Pacific Southwest Section Meeting, 2019, and can also be found online here. © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education