GRADES 9-12 A Growth Mindset Intervention Can Change Students' Attitudes and Achievement, Research Finds

Curriculum Review, September 2019 | Go to article overview

GRADES 9-12 A Growth Mindset Intervention Can Change Students' Attitudes and Achievement, Research Finds


Boosting academic success does not have to derive from new teachers or curriculum; it can also come from changing students' attitudes about their abilities through a short online intervention, according to the latest findings from the National Study of Learning Mindsets published in the journal Nature on Aug. 7, 2019.

The experimental study involved more than 12,000 ninth graders in a national, representative sample of 76 public high schools across the United States.

It showed that an intervention emphasizing a growth mindset--the belief that intellectual abilities are not fixed but can be developed--can improve key predictors of high school graduation and college success, especially when a school's culture supports the treatment message.

"The research cemented a striking finding from multiple earlier studies: A short intervention can change the unlikely outcome of adolescents' grades many months later," said David Yeager, the study's lead author and an associate professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin, in a university news release. "It also showed us something new: Higher-achieving students don't get higher grades after the program, but they are more likely to take harder classes that set them up for long-term success."

According to U.S. federal government statistics, nearly 20 percent of students do not finish high school on time. These students are also at an increased risk of poverty, poor health and early mortality. The transition to high school represents an important transition point in adolescents' paths toward high school completion.

Building on prior studies, researchers found that two, 25-minute online sessions, administered at the beginning of high school, can help students develop a growth mindset by reshaping their attitudes about their abilities. …

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