Academic First Year Experiences

Three factors leading to student success

June 12, 2017

The report:

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Supporting Students' College Success: The Role of Assessment of Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Competencies. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi:

Three factors responsive to intervention lead most persuasively to college success:

  1. a growth mindset
  2. a sense of belonging
  3. personally meaningful goals

Summary from Science News:

"This recent research reported some remarkable findings based on low-cost, brief writing exercises for improving these intra- and interpersonal competencies. One required students to write about the relevance of course topics to their own life or to the life of a family member or close friend. Another intervention aimed to lessen psychological perceptions of threat on campus by framing social adversity as common and transient, and used subtle attitude-change strategies to lead participants to self-generate the framing in their writing.

"With these interventions, GPAs have been shown impressively to improve not only in the class where the intervention was given, but many semesters beyond. . . . Furthermore, the interventions show the largest benefits accrue in student groups that are at greatest risk for academic failure."

The report is based on a meta-analysis of previous studies. You can download the full report, or read it online, or download the accompanying infographic (included here) from  All are free.