“From assets to school outcomes: How finances shape children’s perceived possiblities and intentions”

April 28, 2009 at 3:43 am 2 comments

Yesterday I published a blog entry about the economic effects of the racial achievement gap, which may include a “permanent national recession.”

Today I stumbled across an important new study that may, in part, help explain the achievement gap.

Mesmin Destin and Daphna Oyserman, researchers at the University of Michigan, conducted an experiment to investigate the associations among socioeconomic status, assumptions about the cost of college, and achievement motivation.

Seventh grade students from low-income families were divided into two groups: one group received information that left the impression of college as an ‘expensive’ venture; the other group was reassured that need-based financial aid opportunities existed to support their higher education ambitions.

In a subsequent survey of motivation and time spent on school work, students that received information about need-based financial aid (i.e., those with an ‘open-path mindset’) scored significantly higher than students who assumed the path to college was closed (i.e., those with a ‘closed-path mindet’) as a result of their family’s wanting financial situation.

The authors said based on the study results, parents and children from low-income families “should learn about the financial accessibility of college early, before gaps in student achievement levels emerge and some fall behind.” [Source: UPI]

The research report, published earlier this week in the journal Psychology Science, can be found here [subscription may be required].

Here is the bibliographic information and abstract of Destin and Oyserman’s article:

Destin, M. & Oyserman, D. (2009). From assets to school outcomes: How finances shape children’s perceived possibilities and intentions. Psychology Science, 20(4), 414-418.

ABSTRACT—People do not always take action to attain their desired possible selves—after all, whether consciously or nonconsciously, taking current action makes sense if there is an open path toward attaining the desired self, but not if paths are closed. Following this logic, children from families with fewer assets may lower their expectations for school success and plan to engage in less effort in school. To test this hypothesis, we examined the impact of experimentally manipulating mind-set about college as either ‘‘closed’’ (expensive) or ‘‘open’’ (can be paid for with needbased financial aid) among low-income early adolescents. Adolescents assigned to an open-path condition expected higher grades than those assigned to a closed-path condition (Study 1, n 5 48, predominantly Hispanic and Latino seventh graders) and planned to spend more time on homework than those assigned to a no-prime control condition (Study 2, n 5 48, predominantly African American seventh graders).

play, think…
J.R. Atwood


Entry filed under: etc, play, think. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

The economic effect of the racial achievement gap Onwards

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pochp  |  April 28, 2009 at 3:49 am

    I’ve always believed that a student’s financial status has great impact on the student’s performance.

  • 2. Pollas Chicas  |  August 4, 2009 at 10:50 am

    hmm… love it..


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Jason R. Atwood

I'm an avid trail runner and doctoral student at U.C. Berkeley who studies motivation and the relationship between the mind and body. This blog is a forum to share research, news, and musings about these topics of interest. More

Play is the beginning of knowledge.

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