Productive Persistence

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What is Productive Persistence?

The Carnegie Foundation defines “Productive Persistence” as a set of behaviors that involves the tenacity and good strategies students need to be academically successful. Many students work hard in developmental math classes—studying long hours, nights and weekends—yet many of them do so using ineffective strategies. Others simply withdraw effort soon after the course begins. To help more students be academically successful, we want them to continue to persist when faced with challenges (tenacity) and to do so efficiently and effectively (good strategies). 

pathways to improvement coverRead Carnegie's report on the Pathways and the productive persistence strategy to see the positive change in student engagement and outcomes.

A Network in which to Conduct Improvement Research

How can students’ motivation and engagement be affected reliably, at scale, and by diverse practitioners?

The objective of the Productive Persistence line of work is creating an evidence base for practices that reliably improve community college student motivation and engagement at scale, in the hands of diverse practitioners.

Specifically, productive persistence consists of two parallel lines of development work:

Faculty Productive Persistence Subnetwork: Bringing Practice into Research

Carnegie’s Productive Persistence (PP) Subnetwork is employing the tools of improvement science—using real student data, creating new ways to analyze that data, and conducting research in their classrooms—to specifically address the problem of student motivation, tenacity, and skills for success in the Community College Pathways (CCP).

The Productive Persistence subnetwork is a cross-college collaborative of faculty members dedicated to designing, testing, and adapting promising ideas to address the needs of developmental math community college students. Aided by Carnegie researchers and staff, subnewtork faculty members are organized around building an evidentiary basis for scalling potential psychological interventions using the tools of improvement science and the common framework. 

Productive Persistence Subnetwork 2013 – 2014: Improving Student Mindsets and Creating Social Ties/Belonging

Productive Persistence survey results confirmed research literature, demonstrating that social ties and student mindsets were closely related to pass rates (C or better) and persistence rates (students enrolling in the next term of Statway or Quantway).  

For this reason, during the 2012-2013 year, faculty designed and tested activities aimed at improving social ties and belonging within the classroom. Some promising activities generated by the subnetwork included routines for emailing students to maintain engagement and a process for building cohesive groups that notice and report out when a team member is not present and follow up with the absent student. 

Now in its second year, the Productive Persistence subnetwork will additionally focus on growth mindsets, the belief that he or she can grow their math ability with effort and good strategies, as an additional key driver predictive of improved academic performance. Starting in the 2013 fall term, the subnetwork will adapt and test mindset interventions that have shown promise in research settings as well as continue to test and spread social ties/belonging routines that showed efficacy during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Read more about the Productive Persistence subnetwork.

Carnegie Alpha Labs: Bringing Research into Practice

In an effort to promote research-based practice, the Carnegie Foundation developed Alpha Labs under the direction of Carnegie Fellow Jim Stigler. Within each Alpha Lab are researchers who partner with a community college to test interventions that address specific skills and mindsets necessary for success in the classroom. Additional information on alpha labs can be found at the Carnegie Alpha Labs website.

Currently, there are four alpha labs:

Resource Spotlight

Productive Persistence: Results and Next Steps

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Jane Muhich and David Yeager present results from the first year of productive persistence implementation at the Pathways National Forum in Santa Cruz, CA. July 23, 2012.
(Running time: 36:20)

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What We are Learning About Productive Persistence

What We are Learning About Productive Persistence<br />
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Carnegie Foundation Fellow David Yeager presents the latest findings of Carnegie's work in productive persistence to the Quantway Networked Improvement Community Winter Institute. December 10, 2011.
(Running time: 1:17:43)

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More Pathways Resources »