About Dave Paunesku

Dave Paunesku studies the psychology of learning—his work investigates how educators can create optimal conditions for student success. He is the founding director of PERTS, a center at Stanford University that helps educators apply insights from the psychological sciences to improve students’ educational experiences and outcomes. Hundreds of high schools and colleges across the United States are currently using PERTS’s free, evidence-based programs to raise achievement, retention, and, student success.

Paunesku's work with academic, industry, and government partners has led to the development of evidence-based resources that have reached millions of learners worldwide. His work has been published in leading academic journals, including Nature, Psychological Science, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It has also been featured in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Education Week, Atlantic, USA Today, and The College Dropout Scandal.

PERTS projects have been funded by scientific and educational agencies and by private foundations, including the National Science Foundation, the Institute of Education Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education, the Raikes Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Overdeck Foundation, and the Hewlett Foundation.

Paunesku serves on the advisory boards of Imagine, The Middle School Kindness Challenge, and EL Education.

Paunesku grew up in Chicago before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he co-founded PERTS with friends Carissa Romero, Ben Haley, and Chris Macrander. He earned a B.A. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Stanford University, where his dissertation was supervised by Professors Carol Dweck and Greg Walton. He lives in Oakland, California.



To request a workshop, presentation, or consulting engagement, email paunesku@gmail.com. For inquiries about PERTS, email contact@perts.net.


In the News


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

Yeager, D. S., Hanselman, P., Walton, G. M., Murray, J. S., Crosnoe, R., Muller, C., Tipton, E., Schneider, B., Hulleman, C.S., Hinojosa, C.P., Paunesku, D., Romero, C., Flint, K., Roberts, A., Trott, J., Iachan, R., Buontempo, J., Yang, S., Carvalho, C.M., Hahn, P.H., Gopalan, M., Mhatre, P., Ferguson, R., Duckworth, A.L., & Dweck, C. S. (2019). A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement. Nature, 573(7774), 364–369. 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

Smith, E. N., Romero, C., Donovan, B., Herter, R., Paunesku, D., Cohen, G. L., . . . Gross, J. J. (2017). Emotion theories and adolescent well-being: Results of an online intervention. Emotion. Advance online publication. link