Oct 27, 2011


The School-to-Jobs program was designed to enhance
low income minority students’ ability to use the concept of “possible selves”
(PS)–their conceptions of the self-in-the future–to their school-related
behavior. Students participate in eleven sessions where they discuss and build
upon their academic “possible selves” (ASPs). The intervention had a significant
positive impact on the amount of time students spent on homework each week,
students’ in-class initiative taking, students’ absences, and students’ GPA.


Target population: Low-income and minority youth

The School-to-Jobs program is based on the idea that
“possible selves” (PS)–positive or negative images of the self-in-the-future,
have a strong impact on the school performance of low-income minority students.
The intervention requires students to think about “positive selves” and create
strategies to achieve these. Students are taught to respond positively to
failure, as well as to situate their PSs within their current social identity.
The program consists of eleven sessions in which students learn about academic
possible selves (APSs), draw timelines into the future, generate strategies to
attain their APSs, learn that difficulties are normative and not self-defining,
and strengthen new interpretations of themselves by reviewing and critiquing the
sessions. There are two follow-up sessions with youth and their parents.


Oyserman, D., Bybee, D., & Terry, K. (2006). Possible
selves and academic outcomes: How and when possible selves impel action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(1), 188-204.

Evaluated population: A total of 264 middle-school students from Detroit participated in the
intervention. All were low-income. The sample was 72 percent African American,
17 percent Latino, and 11 percent white.

The School-to-Jobs intervention was conducted during students’ elective period.
Half of the participants attended the regular elective period, and the other
half were assigned to the intervention. The School-to-Jobs intervention was
provided twice a week for a period of 7 weeks (due to elective periods missed
for school half days), as well as over two supplemental parent-youth sessions.

Data were collected
once prior to the intervention, and three times post-intervention: at the end of
the school year, and during the fall and spring of the following school year.
Measures included teachers’ assessments of students’ in-class behavior,
standardized test scores, GPA, and attendance. In addition, students completed a
survey in which they identified their social identity, meaning the aspects of
self based on group traits and goals; the time they spent doing homework; the
frequency of disruptive behavior; the frequency of absence from school; and
their depression, based on a standard scale.

Results indicated that, compared with students who participated in the regular
elective period, those who received the intervention demonstrated significantly
more balanced APSs, meaning that they expressed a pair of similar expected and
feared APSs (e.g., expecting to “pass the 8th grade” while wanting to
avoid “failing and having to be an 8th grader again”), demonstrated
more plausible APSs, coded on a six point scale previously defined by the
author, and demonstrated more feared off-track PSs, those focused on involvement
in gangs or violence, drugs, delinquency, and pregnancy, than the control-group
students at the end of the school year during which the intervention was
administered. In addition, intervention students had significantly fewer
absences, significantly more in-class initiative-taking, and higher GPAs and
standardized test scores than the students who did not receive the intervention,
at the end of the school year. The intervention did not have a significant
impact on time spent doing homework, disruptive behavior, referral to remedial
summer school, or grade retention through the end of the school year.

incorporating data through the end of the school year following the intervention
indicated that students who received the intervention spent significantly more
time doing homework, had significantly fewer absences, and had a marginally
significant higher GPA. In addition, although all students spent less time doing
homework a year after the intervention than they did before the intervention,
the decline was significantly less for intervention students. Also, although
control students declined in their in-class initiative-taking, intervention
students did not show declines on this measure. The intervention did not have a
significant impact on overall in-class initiative-taking, disruptive behavior,
or depression a year after the intervention was administered.


Fidelity assessment protocol available from first
author. Contact information:

Daphna Oyserman, The Institute for Social Research,
The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1248,


Oyserman, D., Bybee, D., & Terry, K. (2006). Possible
selves and academic outcomes: How and when possible selves impel action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(1), 188-204.

Adolescents, Middle School, Males and Females (co-ed), Black/African American,
Urban, School-Based, Manual is Available, Skills Training, Academic
Motivation/Self-Concept/Expectations/Engagement, Other Behavioral Problems,
Attendance, Academic Achievement/Grades, Depression

Program information last updated 10/27/11