15 Aug 2019


Effectiveness of a Growth Mindset in Education Growth mindset, or the belief that intelligence is something we can change, is becoming increasingly popular in the field of education today. The research of Carol Dweck (2008) suggests that having a growth mindset is associated with higher academic achievement. Success is not influenced by natural ability, but rather by mindset and desire to achieve the highest potential and abilities. When individuals choose to quit and give up, others keep pushing and learning from experiences by adjusting work or mindset. Research claims there is more to academic success than intellectual abilities. A difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset is based on the inherent nature and the abilities to achieve based on actions. The findings of this literature review present how a mindset affects the ability to learn and succeed.

Growth and fixed mindsets, which we manifest from a very early age, springs a great deal of behaviour and personality. Relationships can be difficult with success and failure, in both professional and personal contexts, and ultimately the capacity for happiness is based on the mindset that is built in each individual. In the world, there are fixed traits, where success is proving intelligence or talent, or there is the world of changing qualities and stretching to learn something new. Today’s culture is a mixture of the two traits; working together to create a world that is full of successful people. Every day teachers are handed a mixture of these mindsets in the classroom. Between two students, one may have the motivation to persevere, and one may refuse to try when an assignment looks hard.

An academic mindset is a personal belief system about learning that informs one’s behaviours and interactions within a larger socio-emotional educational system. Researchers have demonstrated that student mindsets can be influenced by various interventions, but it is unclear if these effects are lasting. Effective interventions acknowledge both personal and systemic factors at play.

  • Appropriate feedback to encourage positive academic mindsets is specific and constructive and comments on the process of learning rather than the individual. Praising effort over innate qualities such as intelligence reinforces the idea that growth is continuous and flexible.
  • Direct instruction on academic mindsets allows students to identify their own ways to adopt a more flexible belief system. Training for students can cover a range of topics, but interventions like this often cover basic brain anatomy, the malleability of intelligence, and application such as role-playing or sharing through essays or letters. Training for adults more specifically addresses the research behind academic mindsets and how they can influence mindsets in the classroom or through other interactions with students.
  • To further support positive academic mindsets, schools and classrooms should be built upon a foundation of community and collaboration rather than competition. This requires adults to receive training in cultural sensitivity and trauma sensitivity

The connection between neural responses and intrinsic motivation is minimal. Intrinsic motivation is inherent, as it drives an individual’s behaviour and self-determination. Self-determination is important in the development of beings to become more effective and refined in the reflection of ongoing experiences (Ryan, 2008). Students who score higher, based on academic intrinsic motivation at a young age are more likely to perform better in school and challenge themselves more often to earn higher academic rewards and degrees. These students are more likely to be leaders and more self-confident. There is distinctive neuroscientific interplay between growth mindset and intrinsic motivation. The brain relates to mindset and motivation, as a whole. Through internalization, individuals will generate intrinsically motivated behaviours at work or school.

The growth mindset students worked hard to remember and would take constructive criticism if the answer was unknown. The growth mindset learner paid greater attention when given negative feedback about mistakes, and was more likely to correct the mistakes on a retest. These students demonstrated greater overall gains in knowledge. Students with a fixed mindset directed attention to the feedback about what was wrong but did not process this information to learn from it. These group differences may explain why growth mindset individuals are able to bounce back from academic failure more effectively than other fixed-mindset peers.


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