Each year, we invest in research projects that test the effectiveness of character-based classroom practices.

2016 Research Cohort

  • Murphy mary250x300
    Nelson ashlyn

    Rethinking School Discipline in High-Performing Charter Schools

    Mary Murphy (Indiana University) and Ashlyn Aiko Nelson (Indiana University)

    This study aims to decrease adverse disciplinary outcomes—detentions, in- and out-of-school suspensions, and expulsions—and improving academic performance through the cultivation of social-emotional intelligence (SEI) among incoming high school freshmen.

2015 Research Cohort

  • Bryan christopher
    Yeager david

    Bringing Purpose to Healthy Eating

    Christopher Bryan (University of Chicago) and David Yeager (University of Texas at Austin)

    This project utilizes a brief curriculum to target adolescents’ pro-social purpose as a means to increase adolescent self-control. By exploring the way that food companies target young people for unhealthy food choices, the intervention seeks to motivate adolescents to employ self-control in order to resist this marketing and make better food choices.

  • Lyubomirsky sonja

    Gratitude as a Trigger of Self-improvement in Adolescents

    Sonja Lyubomirsky (University of California, Riverside)

    This study investigates building gratitude, through the use of letter writing, testimonials, and reflections, as a mechanism for self-improvement in 9th and 10th graders.

  • Destin mesmin
    Jones brady

    Learning to Tell a Better Story

    Mesmin Destin (Northwestern University) and Brady Jones (Northwestern University)

    This study teaches adolescents to reframe the way they think about their personal narratives to construe past challenges as redemption stories, building pro-social purpose and gratitude, and improving academic outcomes.

  • Eberhardt jennifer
    Walton greg

    Lifting the Bar

    Jennifer Eberhardt (Stanford University) and Greg Walton (Stanford University)

    This project employs a brief social belonging intervention in which adolescents involved in the juvenile justice system write or record messages to other young people in the juvenile justice system and to teachers in order to: a) Grow grit and pro-social purpose in high school students transitioning back to school from the juvenile justice system; and b) Increase likelihood of successful school re-entry and persistence.

  • Mckee laura
    Algoe sara

    Picture This! Framing Purpose & Bringing Gratitude into Focus

    Laura McKee (University of Georgia) and Sara Algoe (University of North Carolina)

    This intervention seeks to increase gratitude in 9th graders through the use of digital picture taking, sharing, and savoring. This study combines positive psychology (gratitude) with cognitive bias modification to foster student growth.

2014 Research Cohort

  • Rogers todd

    Commitment Device

    Todd Rogers (Harvard University)

    Employing pre-commitments that have consequences can help people achieve their goals. Building on this, researchers designed a tool to allow middle school students to set classroom behavior goals that have negative consequences if they fail to be accomplished. This five-minute exercise is predicted to increase students’ abilities to achieve their goals, and to make them more self-aware about the need for self-control tools.

  • Duckworth angela

    Grit Intervention

    Angela Duckworth (University of Pennsylvania)

    Researchers are working with hundreds of middle school students by using text, pictures, videos, and interactive lessons to teach students about deliberate practice, which is what gritty people do, over hours, weeks, and ultimately years, to continue developing their skills. Students will learn 1) what it means to do deliberate practice, 2) what it feels like to do deliberate practice, and 3) why deliberate practice can help them reach their potential. The current version of this intervention lasts about 30 minutes and is entirely web-based. A secondary aim of this project is to develop more reliable measures of deliberate practice in kids.

  • Rogers todd


    Todd Rogers (Harvard University)

    At the end of each day’s math class students first review whether they successfully implemented their “homework plan” from the previous evening, and they consider how it might have been improved. They then develop a plan for that evening’s homework. This intervention is designed to help students use their academic time outside of school more productively by cultivating meta-cognitive planning skills. Six classroom minutes per class are required for the intervention, which targets middle school students.

  • Carlson stephanie
    Zelazo philip

    Reflection and Mindfulness Intervention

    Stephanie Carlson (University of Minnesota) and Phil Zelazo (University of Minnesota)

    A growing body of research has now established that mindfulness training with adults can lead to increases in physical health, reported well-being, and self-regulation. Working with pre-K and kindergarten students, researchers have set out to test the effectiveness of mindfulness training with young people through a brief three-week curriculum that targets students’ awareness of themselves and others.

  • Kross ethan
    Ayduk ozlem


    Ethan Kross (University of Michigan) and Ozlem Ayduk (University of California, Berkeley)

    Researchers designed two computer-based sessions that aim to help elementary and middle school students build interpersonal self control by viewing emotional experiences more objectively. This act of “self-distancing” has been shown to help adults experience less distress and/or become less aggressive, and the researchers are interested in expanding this work to help students.

  • Yeager david
    Walton greg

    Social and Academic Mindsets Affecting College Persistence

    David Yeager (University of Texas at Austin) and Greg Walton (Stanford University)

    Researchers designed an intervention in which roughly 1500 outgoing high school seniors completed two 30-minute web-based and self-administered sessions in the months before graduation. The sessions communicated that social and academic difficulties at the beginning of college do not mean that you will never fit in or that you lack academic potential. The researchers are now tracking the percent of treated students who are continuously enrolled full-time in college in the years following the intervention, compared to the control group.

2013 Research Cohort

  • Yeager david

    Understanding the Transition to College

    David Yeager (University of Texas at Austin)

    High school seniors at four schools completed two, 50-minute computer-based sessions aimed at shaping mindsets related to college. The researchers who designed the intervention are now following up on persistence and achievement outcomes in the first year of college, comparing students who received the mindset sessions with students in a control group.

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