Increasing student success is critical both for students’ welfare and our country’s economic development, but most programs aimed at improving student performance tend to be expensive and have modest effects, if any. Traditionally, school systems and colleges underutilize some of the most powerful resources in students’ lives – the family members and friends who care about students and interact with them regularly. The S3 Lab believes that these individuals can play an invaluable role in enhancing students’ educational progress by providing accountability, encouragement, and assistance. We therefore develop strategies to invite support from students’ social networks and to empower these supporters with the tools and information they need to effectively help students succeed in school or college.
The S3 Lab recognizes that interventions are most likely to be widely adopted if they impose minimal burdens on tight budgets and overworked staff, so we focus specifically on very low-cost, easy-to-implement approaches that leverage schools’ existing administrative data. Furthermore, we rigorously test all of our programs through randomized controlled trials that allow us to ensure that our interventions truly achieve their intended goals. This work is conducted in more than 1,400 educational settings including K-12 schools, online universities, state and community colleges, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).