Growth Mindset

Research by Carol Dweck and colleagues shows that students’ beliefs about intelligence have important implications for their learning, motivation, and academic achievement. Students with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is innate and fixed at birth, while students with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is malleable and can be developed over time.1 Research shows that growth-minded students are more likely than their fixed-minded peers to pursue challenging work and persevere despite setbacks.2 Growth-minded students tend to approach challenges as bumps in the road that are part of the learning process, while fixed-minded students tend to view challenges as roadblocks that stop them in their tracks. Moreover, growth-minded students are more likely to be intrinsically motivated, have higher academic achievement, and become lifelong learners.3
 
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Eton College

Growth Mindset and Prosocial Attitudes

Through a collaboration with The Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning, RSI carried out a controlled experimental study on growth mindset and prosocial attitudes with year 12 students at Eton College. Students participating in this study received a three-week course. The course taught students about mindsets and the brain’s capacity for change. In addition, the course discussed how students can foster supportive relationships that help them feel safe enough to take intellectual risks, pursue challenging work, and persevere despite setbacks.

Results reveal that teaching students about mindsets and social relationships through the course led to a statistically significant increase in students’ growth mindset as well as their prosocial attitudes. Further, our research suggests that teachers can use the following strategies in their day-to-day teaching practice to promote growth mindset among students:

  • teach students about brain plasticity,
  • emphasize the role of effort in success,
  • model a growth mindset for students,
  • use formative assessment to emphasize the process of learning,
  • engage students in metacognitive activities to help them reflect on their learning, and
  • encourage students to adopt prosocial attitudes that foster supportive relationships.

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Latymer Upper School

Mindsets about Intelligence and Character

Early adolescence is a time of complex transitions, and the increased responsibility and independence young people assume are often accompanied by academic and social stress. To encourage students to have resilient attitudes in the face of stress and setbacks, faculty at Latymer Upper School partnered with RSI to deliver a growth mindset intervention to students entering year 7 at the school. The intervention was designed to teach students that abilities and character can develop over time. RSI carried out a controlled experimental study to investigate the impact of this intervention. In addition, we explored relationships between students’ mindsets about intelligence and character and their experience of stress.

Results show that students who participated in the mindset course experienced a statistically significant increase in growth mindset about both intelligence and character. Furthermore, after completing the course, students reported shifts in their understanding about how the brain learns, their attitudes toward mistakes, and the importance of effort and practice. Finally, we found that stronger growth mindset beliefs in any domain - intelligence or character - were associated with lower levels of stress.


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Wellington College and Highbury College

Growth Mindset

RSI partnered with Wellington Learning and Research Centre to carry out a mixed methods study on students' mindsets. For this study, students at Highbury Grove School and Wellington College received a course designed to support growth mindset. RSI collected survey data from participating students to evaluate shifts in mindsets and students' beliefs about learning.

Analysis of our survey data suggests that the course supports a growth-oriented approach to learning by encouraging students to understand that effort and interest contribute to success, appreciate that the brain is adaptable, and value effort and skill building. Additionally, the course helps students reflect on how relationships can provide academic and emotional support for learning. Students who took the course express a greater appreciation for the importance of teacher and student relationships in learning. Moreover, students report that these shifts in thinking had real-world consequences for how they engage in their learning at school. Many students report that, as a result of the course, they approach learning with a greater propensity to take risks and show resilience in the face of challenges. In addition, some students indicate they are now more likely to use feedback for improvement. Finally, others explain that the course made them more likely to seek out support from teachers.


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St. George's School

Growth Mindset and Self-Compassion

A collaborative team of St. George’s School teachers and RSI researchers carried out a controlled experimental study to evaluate the impact of an intervention devised to support growth mindset and self-compassion. The intervention, co-designed by teachers at the school and RSI researchers, consisted of four lessons that drew on insights from a diverse body of research in mindsets and self-compassion. RSI researchers used online surveys to measure the impact that the course had on participating students.

Students who received the intervention show a statistically significant increase in growth mindset, compared to a control group. Interestingly, students who are more growth-minded report higher levels of self-compassion while students who are more fixed-minded report lower levels of self-compassion. Moreover, analysis of short answer responses suggests that self-compassion may be a key factor in the adaptive power of a growth mindset.


Methodist Ladies College

Formative Assessment and Growth Mindset

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Methodist Ladies' College (MLC) is committed to promoting formative assessment and a growth-oriented approach to learning at their school. As such, they are working with RSI to carry out research to explore formative assessment practices at their school. Formative assessment involves providing ongoing feedback throughout the learning process that is used to shape learning and teaching. In this project, teachers will report on formative assessment practices used in their classrooms, workshop formative assessment methods with RSI researchers, and then deepen their use of formative assessment across the school. Stay tuned for more updates!


Citations

  1. Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset : the new psychology of success (1st ed.). New York: Ballantine Books.

  2. Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Psychology Press.

  3. Dweck, 2006.