Behavioral Interventions


An Independent Evaluation of the National Study of Learning Mindsets

November, 2019
Pei Zhu, Ivonne Garcia, Kate Boxer, Sidhant Wadhera, Erick Alonzo

One type of intervention to help students navigate the tricky transition to ninth grade communicates to them that their brains can grow “stronger.” This evaluation of one such intervention finds that it changed students’ beliefs and attitudes and produced impacts on their average academic performance.

The Center for Applied Behavioral Science ( CABS ) at MDRC is excited to launch the Applied Behavioral Coalition ( ABC ) project, which partners with nonprofit organizations that serve vulnerable and at-risk populations in the United States. ABC ’s goal is to build each organization’s foundation in behavioral science and human-centered design principles. Leaders, staff...


The Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services (BICS) Project

October, 2019
Yana Kusayeva, Peter Baird, Jonathan Timm

This intervention tested with the Vermont Office of Child Support changed outreach materials and the structure of conferences with parents in order to increase parent participation in the child support process and increase the percentage of cases where both parents reached agreement outside of court. It did improve both outcomes.


Testing Early Parent Engagement in Washington’s Child Support Program

July, 2019
Asaph Glosser, Angela Gaffney

The state of Washington tested an intervention meant to foster a better relationship with parents early in the child support process. The intervention included specialized caseworkers, phone calls, and redesigned documents. There was limited evidence that the intervention increased parent engagement, and it did not improve payment outcomes.


Increasing Child Support Order Modification Review Completion in Ohio

May, 2019
Peter Baird, Rhiannon Miller

In Ohio, the process to modify a child support order has two stages that typically take more than 100 days to complete. In two counties, the Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services team worked with local agencies to test four interventions designed to simplify the process.


Engaging California Parents During Child Support Order Establishment

June, 2019
Angela Gaffney, Michael Fishman, Jared Smith

Child support agencies in Sacramento and San Joaquin Counties and the Behavioral Interventions for Child Support Services team tested whether a behavioral intervention could increase the percentage of parents who responded to early paperwork and got involved in the child support process.


Using Behavioral Science to Identify Barriers to Credit Intensity and Satisfactory Academic Progress

April, 2019

Taking enough credits and passing enough classes are key requirements for college success. But behavioral and institutional barriers often get in the way. A new report from MDRC shows how behavioral science can expose these barriers and help colleges move their students past the finish line to graduation.

Issue Focus
April, 2019
Pei Zhu, Ivonne Garcia, Erick Alonzo

This evaluation examines a “growth mindset” intervention for ninth-graders as they make the transition to high school. It aims to boost students’ ability to meet challenges and persist in school by demonstrating that academic setbacks do not indicate poor intelligence ― with the goal of enhancing academic resilience and, ultimately, performance.


Using Behavioral Strategies to Increase Initial Child Support Payments in Texas

April, 2019
Mary Farrell, Carly Morrison

This behavioral science-based intervention was designed to increase the percentage of employed parents who made child support payments during the first months after a new order was established, before employer income withholding went into effect. It did increase the percentage who made payments in the first month.


Engagement in New York City’s Kindergarten Application

March, 2019

Parents applying to kindergarten today must follow multiple steps. Identifying families who do not apply can help a school system improve its application process and can help it target families who need support. MDRC partnered with the New York City Department of Education to conduct this sort of diagnosis.