Tailoring mindset interventions for first-generation college students: A cultural fit approach
Germano, Adriana Louise
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First-generation (FG) college students, students who are the first in their family to attend college, are more likely to face academic challenges relative to continuing-generation (CG) students. Growth mindset interventions, which commonly consist of motivating messages about growing students’ brains and ultimately intelligence, may be one solution to bridging this achievement gap. However, research suggests that the culturally independent focus of these interventions (e.g., growing your intelligence helps you to reach your goals) may undermine their full potential for FG students. FG students have culturally interdependent self-views, making them more likely to think about educational goals within the context of family and community, rather than individualism. Across two studies, we tested whether an interpedently tailored cultural growth mindset intervention (e.g. growing your intelligence helps you to help your people) would yield increased academic persistence in FG students, relative to a classic growth mindset intervention. Findings between Studies 1 and 2 were mixed. In Study 1 we found that a culturally tailored mindset intervention was marginally better than a classic mindset intervention in improving FG students’ academic persistence. However, in Study 2, we found no effect of either intervention in improving FG students’ academic persistence. Both studies demonstrate that there is still more to learn in regard to tailoring academic interventions. These studies provide a first step in understanding how to better tailor growth mindset interventions to FG students.
- Psychology