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Search over three decades of research on mindsets, including Mindset Scholars Network briefs and working papers, and other publications from Network studies and initiatives.

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Praise for process, which includes praising students’ level of effort and effective strategies, has shown promise in improving students’ motivation to learn. However, parents and teachers may interpret this to mean that solely praising students’ effort level is sufficient. Although praise for effort is effective in some respects in early childhood, it often stops working and even backfires by adolescence. In this article, we explain these findings developmentally.

The research team suggests that effort praise can communicate that effort is a path to improving ability, but can also imply that the student needs to work hard because of low innate ability. They propose that adolescents are at greater risk for interpreting the praise in the second way because secondary schools often value innate ability more than effort and adolescents are conscious of ability stereotypes.

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