Mindset interventions by former students

Mindset interventions
can help students change their beliefs about themselves and their experiences in their studies. They can help students develop a learning mindset that makes them believe they can be successful, fit in, and that the education is relevant to them. Until now, mindset interventions in studies have not focused on the context of a specific study (e.g. biology). In addition, the interventions were usually designed and delivered by psychologists. A new study (Hecht et al., 2022) used an approach of modified peer-modeled mindset interventions. 

Mindset interventions by former students 

Peer-modeled mindset interventions are interventions by former students that consisted of videos with interview fragments with them. In these, these former students talked about the changes in their thinking about the challenges and setbacks they had encountered in their studies (biology) and in their changed approach to study. 

Content of the video fragments 

To make the videos, the researchers approached students from various backgrounds (including gender and ethnicity) who initially struggled in their studies and who later went on to do very well. The interview fragments were then developed through a structured process (see here). the interview fragments related to 3 topics: 1) the transition from high school to university, 2) the struggles halfway through the academic year, 3) ​​successfully completing the academic year (the links contain the videos). 


The researchers tested this intervention in a randomized, controlled trial (N = 917). Some of the first-year biology students participating in the study viewed the specially developed fragments with mindset interventions. Another part watched video fragments with the same former students in which they talked about the content of the courses. 

Better Attributions 

The intervention was successful. The intervention changed students' attributions of their struggles. First they interpreted their struggles as a lack of potential (an ability attribution), after the intervention as the need to develop a better study approach (an effort attribution). 

Better study approach 

The intervention also improved study approach and sense of belonging and had promising effects on performance and persistence in biology. These effects were strongest among students from ethnic minority backgrounds.