Real-world effectiveness of a social-psychological intervention translated from controlled trials to classrooms

Chen et al. / npj Science of Learning / August 2022

Social-psychological interventions have raised the learning and performance of students in rigorous efficacy trials. Yet, after they are distributed “in the wild” for students to self-administer, there has been little research following up on their translational effectiveness. The authors used cutting-edge educational technology to tailor, scale up, and track a previously-validated Strategic Resource Use intervention among 12,065 college students in 14 STEM and Economics classes. Students who self-administered this “Exam Playbook” benefitted by an average of 2.17 percentage points (i.e., a standardized effect size of 0.18), compared to non-users. This effect size was 1.65 percentage points when controlling for college entrance exam scores and 1.75 [−1.88] for adding [dropping] the Exam Playbook in stratified matching analyses. Average benefits differed in magnitude by the conduciveness of the class climate (including peer norms and incentives), gender, first-generation status, as well as how often and how early they used the intervention. These findings on how, when, and who naturally adopts these resources address a need to improve prediction, translation, and scalability of social-psychological intervention benefits.