Effects of goal-setting and life crafting interventions on study success

    In this PhD research, first-year students from sixteen study programmes at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences take part in interventions aimed at increasing their study success and well-being. The interventions consist of writing assignments that help students find their life goals and make them concrete so that they have more focus and are better able to resist temptation.


    Project description

    At the Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) a goal-setting intervention at the beginning of the year succeeded in significantly improving the study success of students. This intervention consists of guided writing exercises in which the students work out their desired future as clearly as possible. On this basis they write ambitious and concrete goals. They prioritise the objectives and for each objective, they work out in detail how to achieve them and how to deal with setbacks. Especially boys and students with a migration background, started to perform structurally better after participating in the intervention at RSM.

    In the Surpassing Myself project, we adapted the intervention described above for college students and we are investigating whether it also works for the entrepreneurship study programme and teacher training. In addition, we investigate what the underlying mechanism is. In other words: in what ways does this intervention influence the students' study behaviour? The results so far show that the students who did the goal setting intervention gained significantly more credits and dropped out less. Remarkably, for university of applied sciences students the intervention works just as much regardless of gender, prior education or ethnicity. Currently, sixteen study programmes of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences have integrated goal setting assignments in their curriculum. 

    As a follow-up to this first experiment, an addition to goal setting in the form of an AI chatbot coach is now being researched at the HR Business School, the School of Education, the School of Built Environment and the Rotterdam School of Management (EUR).

    Connection to education

    The interventions that are developed and tested in this research will, if successful, be implemented in the curriculum of the study programmes. Several lecturers from the participating programmes participate in the research team as co-researchers.