- An online intervention used to teach a nationally representative sample of more than 12,000 high school freshmen about growth mindset has yielded significant positive results, according to a study published in the science journal Nature this week.
- Researchers saw lower-achieving students improve their grades and more students enroll in advanced mathematics courses after introducing them to the concept of growth mindset — specifically "that the brain is like a muscle that grows stronger and smarter when it undergoes rigorous learning experiences."
- The authors estimate that on a widespread scale, the intervention could prevent as many as 5.3% of 1.5 million students from being labeled "off track" for graduation each year.
The report adds to a growing body of research on how a growth mindset, rather than a fixed one, can affect students’ chances of success. As previously reported, whether students believe that intellectual abilities can be improved can predict how well they do in the pivotal freshman year of high school. A growth mindset has even been found to counteract the effects of poverty on students’ academic performance.
Still, a mindset isn’t as tangible as a test score, making it more challenging for policymakers to measure, and other research has questioned its importance — and whether a one-time intervention is really enough to make a long-term difference.
But for school leaders interested in fostering this mindset among students, this could be a good place to start. Researchers on the study in Nature make the case that the intervention, which was inexpensive — delivered in less than an hour and not requiring additional training for teachers — could have significant effects over time for schools in the era of the Every Student Succeeds Act, because some states look at student achievement in 9th grade as an accountability measure.