Responding to the need to look beyond test scores to measure school quality, an increasing number of school districts are striving to incorporate socio-emotional learning measures in their accountability policies. Growth mindset – believing that intelligence and talent can change – is one of these measures. Experimental research has found that developing a growth mindset can improve academic achievement and that schools can affect students’ mindset. However, until now we have not known how mindset varies across and within American schools or whether measures of mindset on a large-scale predict students’ future learning.
A new study by Susana Claro and Susanna Loeb fills this gap by using data from five school districts in California that measure growth mindset for students in 3rd to 8th grade to assess the extent that students with stronger growth mindset learn more in a given year than those without. It finds that traditionally underserved students – including students in poverty, English learners, Hispanics, and African-American students – are less likely to hold a growth mindset. Yet, for all groups, students with a growth mindset learn more over the course of year than otherwise similar students who do not have a growth mindset.
While this study is just a first step in assessing the effects of mindset on a large population of students and the role of schools in building mindset, the findings provide initial evidence that it may be beneficial to monitor the levels of growth mindset in the population and convey to students that the brain is malleable.
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