Teaching to Fish: Impacts of a Social Capital Intervention for College Students

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Teaching to Fish: Impacts of a Social Capital Intervention for College Students

Schwartz, S., Parnes, M. Browne, R. Austin, L., Carreiro, M. Rhodes, J., Kupersmidt, J., Kanchewa, S. American Educational Research Journal. (2023-08-01)


The study evaluates the impacts of a one-credit college course aimed at enhancing student help-seeking behaviors and social capital within a racially diverse college student sample. The course was designed to shift students’ attitudes towards help-seeking and to foster their ability to identify, initiate, and maintain relationships with mentors and other sources of social capital.


The research employed a random assignment design to assess the effects of the one-credit college course. The course was intended to increase student help-seeking behaviors and social capital among a racially diverse group of college students.


Compared to the control group, students in the treatment group reported improved attitudes towards help-seeking, increased help-seeking behavior, and higher levels of social capital and mentoring support. However, the academic benefits were mixed. There was an increase in academic self-efficacy, no impact on college GPA, and a decrease in academic cognitive engagement. The study also observed differential impacts based on factors such as year in college, race, and first-generation college student status.


The findings underscore the significance of social capital in college students' academic and career success. The study suggests that interventions like the one-credit course can effectively enhance students' help-seeking behaviors and social capital, which can be particularly beneficial for first-generation and BIPOC students. However, the mixed academic outcomes highlight the need for further research and refinement of such interventions.