According to identity-based motivation theory, when the social identity is made salient children with low-SES view academic success as a distinct characteristic of middle-class kids. This view significantly impacts academic performance (as based on expectation-value system). When such a view of the self is changed, academic-related consequences also change (Oyserman, 2007). Thus, changing child’s self-perception becomes a focus of current intervention. One way to approach a shift in one’s self was to look at the expectations of the future self, that is, if children expect to go to college (Beal & Crockett, 2010; Elliott, 2009). Indeed, the expectation to go to college significantly predicted children’s enrolment into college education. It was also found that holding school-focused future identities influences children’s attainment. Comparing their expected possible self with a feared possible self (that is, the one they want to avoid), children showed higher levels of fear of being expelled and higher end-of-year grades (Oyserman, Bybee & Terry, 2006). These patterns were also clearly observed in an experimental intervention that manipulated the salience of the future academic achievement as a part of a child’s own self. Such a manipulation was shown to significantly affect students’ GPA and a change in GPA across the time (Oyserman, Bybee & Terry, 2006). Importantly, however, such results were only significant when the future-self incorporated both the individual-self and social-self, as well as was complemented with appropriate academic-related strategies.
Stemming from such findings, a possible intervention to White British student underachievement might be based on School-to-Jobs intervention (Oyserman, Bybee & Terry, 2006), which within seven weeks and over 12 sessions works on the development of child’s school-focused future self. Specifically, throughout the intervention sessions, students are required to think about their possible future selves and produce strategies to accomplish them (Oyserman, 2011). In addition to this, children learn how to react positively to failure and place their possible identity within their existing self-conception. A possible addition to the intervention might be to give intervention tasks to children as a homework. In this way, they might also increase their interaction with parents and improve a self-view of the family. Another possible addition to an intervention might include metaphor use, where children view their education as a journey. This will complement planning strategies and will teach children that difficulties “along the way” are common and are not self-defining (Landau et al., 2014).
Such an intervention could be implemented at any time of the year, however, preferably it should take place at the beginning of the year. Similarly, it can be applied to students of different ages, if they understand strategic planning and metaphor use. An advantage of such intervention is that, while primarily targeting low-SES students, it can also benefit students from ethnic minorities and help with learning plan even to those performing well.