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Description: I have written about Carol Dweck’s research on the “growth mindset’ before. Dweck’s research indicates that when students encounter difficult material (like say in Math) the attributions they make when their performance is not good on exams etc. makes a difference in their future performance. Performing poorly and deciding this reflects one’s basic lack of talent in that area leads to less investment of effort and continued poor performance. On the other hand, deciding the poor performance reflects a challenge for harder work and more focused effort leads to performance improvement. Research supporting this analysis has led to interventions that involve, among other things, teaching students that their brains grow, develop and learn by building on failure and with the application of focus and effort. Nothing wrong with that but, as an intervention strategy, how effective is it? Put another way, does this strategy help all students in all circumstances all the time? (Beware, rarely is ANYTHING that good!). Before you read the article linked below hypothesize about what some of the other variables might be that influence whether the “Growth Mindset” hypothesis works or how well it works if it does. After that read through the article linked below and maybe have a look at the research article it discusses and see how your hypotheses fared.

Source: The Growth Mindset Works, but Not for Everyone, Art Markman, Ulterior Motives, Psychology Today.

Date: October 27, 2017

Photo Credit:  Life Sciences Database/Wikimedia Commons

Links:  Article Link —

How did your hypothesis do?  We have to remember that one of the things we routinely do when we set up research in the controlled environment of a research lab is that we simplify the situations we are interested in (at least initially) in order to better control the number and complexity of the variables at play.  What that means is that we need to conduct additional research that essentially “recomplicates” the situations we are studying as we move them back out of the lab and apply them to the world in all its wonderous complexity. This does not mean that “big” finding is not important for things in the world but just that we need to do the work to find out what works, when, for who under what circumstances and to what extent (just a few questions to consider when applying psychological research!).

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What is the growth mindset and how does it work?
  2. How might the growth mindset be used to improve student lives and student performance??
  3. What else needs to be considered before deciding that interventions based on growth mindset research are going to improve school for everyone? What can you take awy from this and use in your own education?

References (Read Further):

Chao, M.M., Visaria, S., Dehejia, R., & Mukhopadhyay, A. (2017). Do rewards reinforce the growth mindset? Joint effects of the growth mindset and incentive schemes in a field intervention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 146(10), 1402-1419.

Growth Mindset

Dweck, C. (2015). Carol dweck revisits the’growth mindset’. Education Week, 35(5), 20-24.

Dweck, C. S. (2010). Even geniuses work hard. Educational Leadership, 68(1), 16-20.

O’Rourke, E., Haimovitz, K., Ballweber, C., Dweck, C., & Popović, Z. (2014, April). Brain points: a growth mindset incentive structure boosts persistence in an educational game. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 3339-3348). ACM.