Growth mindset studies reveal differing results

Either grades and enrollment improve or students experience little or negative effects through this practice
By: | October 15, 2019
Either grades and enrollment improved or students experienced little or negative effects in growth mindset interventions, according to different growth mindset studies.gettyimages.com: michaeljung

Growth mindset studies reveal conflicting evidence on the benefits of the idea that student intelligence can improve through challenges and hard work.

Lower-achieving students’ grades and enrollment in math courses improved after taking short online exercises that promoted growth mindset in a recent national experiment.


From DA: New approaches address social-emotional learning and anxiety as well as academic instruction


Conversely, growth mindset interventions had little and even negative effects on Chinese students in a later study. Textbooks and studying constantly are more effective, researchers concluded.

Some experts who believe growth mindset works don’t think schools are teaching the concept correctly.

“They are turning it into something it was never meant to be,” Queensland University of Technology Professor Linda Graham told The Sydney Morning Herald. “It’s been McDonald-ised, which happens everywhere in education.”

Growth mindset interventions in education

At an elementary school in Long Beach USD in California, ELA and math test scores increased across all student subgroups after teachers introduced an SEL program with an emphasis on growth mindset, District Administration reported.

In Maryland, a YouTube star named C.J. Luckey who promotes growth mindset in his songs has embarked on an eight-school tour of Carroll County Public Schools ( 26,500 students) as part of C.A.P.S., a program that promotes perseverance in schools, reported Capital Gazette


From DA: Educators adopt growth mindset to tap into students’ capacity to boost intelligence


At the first stop of the tour, students at Elmer Wolfe Elementary knew all of the words to C.J. Luckey’s songs, a teacher told Capital Gazette.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education recently recognized Lincoln Elementary, a school that teaches growth mindset, for scoring among Minnesota’s highest performing schools, Echo Press reported.

Overcoming all barriers

When adopting growth mindset interventions, educators should adjust the language used with students to change how they think of themselves, Adam Young, superintendent of the White Pine County School District in Nevada, told DA

For example, make a chart of “legal” and “illegal” language.” Student comments such as “this is too hard” fall in the latter category while statements such as “I’m not sure how to do this yet, but I’m working on it,” should be permitted, Young says.

“If you believe in a growth mindset, you can’t say, ‘Look at those parents, that kid’s going to struggle forever because of their home life,’”  Young added.

“You can’t talk about poverty or country of origin being a barrier. If you really believe in growth mindset, those are all obstacles that can be overcome.”


Resource: Growth mindset toolkit

More from DA: How Universal Design for Learning provides flexibility for students and educators in achieving their goals