Strengthening Present-Future Self-Continuity Improves Colle Strengthening Present-Future Self-Continuity Improves College Persistence

Project: Research project

Description

The goal of the proposed research is to increase college students persistence, even during difficult times. We propose to study three malleable aspects of self-continuity: vividness, similarity, and positivity. By studying changes in perceived continuity of the present and future selves and manipulating the three aspects of continuity, we aim to show that making the future self more positive, vivid, and similar compared to the present self can promote academic motivation and in turn, better grades, improved academic progress and higher persistence rates. Moreover, we posit the associations between a set of risk factors (i.e., low socioeconomic status, first-generation student or ethnic minority) and poor academic outcomes are mediated by the impact of early academic and non-academic challenges on self-continuity. Familism and availability of educational role models may moderate these relationships. The proposed manipulation can help narrow the achievement gap between at-risk and non at-risk groups of students.
Research Setting and Sample: We will recruit a total of 1,800 first-time first-year students from two consecutive cohorts who are enrolled in introductory chemistry and psychology courses at Arizona State University (ASU), a large, diverse, urban university.

Research Plan and Design: We propose a four-year program of research comprising two longitudinal studies. Each study includes 6 waves of data collections from students. In addition, Study 2 will deliver the proposed experimental manipulations at three different occasions to increase self-continuity. Collectively, both studies address three specific aims. Our first aim is to address how initial future self-continuity influences academic motivation, performance, progress and persistence. Our second aim is to assess whether and how future self-continuity changes over time and whether this change affects academic motivation and outcomes. Our third aim is to experimentally demonstrate that the three facets of self-continuity are malleable and can promote academic motivation and outcomes.

Research Outcomes and Methods: Our key outcome measures (grades, progress toward degree, persistence in chosen major and enrollment at ASU) are objective and with student consent, will be obtained through the Office of Institutional Analysis. Our research methods combine longitudinal, observational and experimental research designs including random assignment to conditions. Whenever possible, we will rely on established measures. For new measures developed specifically for the present research, psychometric properties will be validated.

Data Analytic Strategy: We will employ statistical analyses that address four substantive goals: the evaluation of (a) changes in self-continuity, (b) experimental effects, (c) moderation or interactive effects, and (d) mediational effects. We will use exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to establish the construct validity of our measures, growth analyses to identify patterns of individual changes over time and cross-lag analyses to assess the way in which the students challenges and set-backs interact with the students future self-continuity. Power analyses have been conducted to ensure that we have adequate statistical power to detect small to medium effect sizes.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date8/1/167/31/20

Funding

  • US Department of Education (DOEd): $1,711,572.00

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persistence
continuity
present
student
manipulation
first-year student
first generation
role model
construct validity
psychometrics
national minority
research planning
research method
social status
longitudinal study
chemistry
psychology
university
evaluation
performance