Dave Paunesku studies the motivation to learn and the conditions that are necessary for students to become passionate, resilient, and successful learners. PERTS, his center at Stanford University, helps schools and colleges apply insights from psychological research to create learning environments that inspire students to embrace learning. Paunesku works with industry, academic, and government partners to create scalable, evidence-based resources that have reached millions of learners worldwide.

Paunesku’s work has been published in top academic journals, including Psychological Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. His work has received more than $8 million from government and philanthropic organizations, including the National Science Foundation, Institute of Education Sciences, Raikes Foundation, Joyce Foundation, and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. His work been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Education Week, The Atlantic, and USA Today.

Paunesku grew up in Chicago before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he founded PERTS with friends Carissa Romero, Ben Haley, and Chris Macrander. He holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago and Ph.D. from Stanford University. He lives in Oakland.


Paunesku at TEDx


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 (Unpublished doctoral dissertation.)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