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

Our Publications

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. (Aug, 2023)


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.