National Institute on Aging

Intervention Succeeds in Boosting Retention of Students From Underrepresented Groups

A new intervention program developed at the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis has been proven successful in boosting the retention rate of students from underrepresented groups.

David Patterson Silver Wolf, an associate professor at the school developed a social-belonging intervention program entitled “You Are College Material – You Belong.” In testing the program at a local community college, he found that the intervention increased retention rates by 8 percent, compared to a control group that did not participate in the intervention. He also found that the students who participated in the program achieved significantly higher grade point averages than students in the control group.

“Unless underrepresented minority students enroll in their own college, such as a historical Black or tribal college, finding ways to feel like they belong can be very difficult,” Patterson Silver Wolf said. “The college culture and traditions oftentimes conflict with minority culture and traditions. Further, when there are feelings of a lack of belonging, small things, like being ignored or getting a poor grade, can cause those feelings to increase. These seemingly small acts can result in the decision to drop out, which has huge consequences.”

A video about the program can be viewed below.


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