Motivation

What can we do right now to help students from under-resourced communities succeed in school and beyond?

Answering this question urgently and practically is the moral imperative that drives my work. To do so, I focus my efforts on the development and dissemination of educational practices that meet two important criteria:

To identify and promote such practices, I partner with a variety of stakeholders—including educators, funders, governments, researchers, and edtech organizations—because only through such intentional partnerships is it possible to simultaneously spread practices widely and ensure that they continue to work effectively at scale.

 

My Work

Most of my work is channeled through the Stanford University Project for Education Research That Scales (PERTS), a research center I co-founded and led since 2010. In the early 2010s, PERTS pioneered new methods for large-scale, cost-effective evaluation and dissemination of social psychological interventions — interventions designed to help students stay resilient and successful despite the often-inequitable barriers in their way. PERTS continues to work with numerous organizations to develop, test, and spread these powerful but overlooked approaches to advancing educational equity. Click here for highlights from current PERTS projects.

My work at PERTS has been published in a number of leading scientific journals, and it has received over $6 million in funding from various foundations and agencies, including the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, the Raikes Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Gates Foundation, and the Joyce Foundation. It has also been featured on a variety of popular media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Science Magazine, Education Week, The Atlantic, EdSurge, The Scientific American, and Mind/Shift.

 

Selected Publications

Okonofua, J.A., Paunesku, D., & Walton, G.M. (2016). A Brief Intervention to Encourage Empathic Discipline Cuts Suspension Rates in Half Among Adolescents. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. link

Yeager, D. S., Walton, G. M., Brady, S. T., Akcinar, E. N., Paunesku, D., Keane, L., ... & Gomez, E. M. (2016). Teaching a lay theory before college narrows achievement gaps at scale. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201524360. link

Claro, S., Paunesku, D., & Dweck, C. S. (2016). Growth mindset tempers the effects of poverty on academic achievement. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 201608207. link

Paunesku, D., Walton, G.M., Romero, C.L., Smith, E.N., Yeager, D.S., & Dweck, C.S. (2015). Mindset interventions are a scalable treatment for academic underachievement. Psychological Science, 26(6), 784-93. link

Paunesku, D. (2013). Scaled-up social psychology: Intervening wisely and broadly in education. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation.) Stanford University. link

Yeager, D. S., Romero, C., Paunesku, D., Hulleman, C. S., Schneider, B., Hinojosa, C., ... & Trott, J. (2016). Using design thinking to improve psychological interventions: The case of the growth mindset during the transition to high school. Journal of Educational Psychology, 108(3), 374. link

Yeager, D.S., Henderson, H., Paunesku, D., Walton, G.M., D’Mello, S. Spitzer, B.J., & Duckworth, A.L. (2014). Boring but Important: A self-transcendent purpose for learning fosters academic self-regulation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 107(4), 559-580. link

Romero, C., Master, A., Paunesku, D., Dweck, C. S., & Gross, J. J. (2014). Academic and emotional functioning in middle school: The role of implicit theories. Emotion, 14(2), 227. link