Research Library

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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This article reports findings from the largest-ever randomized controlled trial of a growth mindset program in the United States in K-12 settings. The study combined a test for cause-and-effect (a randomized experiment) with a sample that enables claims about an entire population (a nationally representative probability sample). The study found that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset intervention—which teaches that intellectual abilities can be developed—improved grades among lower-achieving students and increased enrollment in advanced mathematics courses among both higher- and lower-achieving students in a nationally representative sample of regular public high schools in the United States. Notably, the study identified school contexts that moderated the effects of the growth mindset intervention: the intervention had a stronger effect on grades when peer norms aligned with the messages of the intervention. In addition to its rigorous design, the study also featured independent data collection and processing, pre-registration of analyses, and corroboration of results by a blinded Bayesian analysis.

Light-touch social psychological interventions have gained considerable attention for their potential to improve academic outcomes for underrepresented and/or disadvantaged students in postsecondary education. While findings from previous interventions have demonstrated positive effects for racial and ethnic minority and first-generation students in small samples, few interventions have been implemented at a larger scale with more heterogeneous student populations. To address this research gap, 7,686 students, representing more than 90% of incoming first-year students at a large Midwestern public university, were randomly assigned to an online growth mindset intervention, social belonging intervention, or a comparison group. Results suggest that after the fall semester, the growth mindset intervention significantly improved grade point averages for Latino/a students by about .40 points. This represents a 72% reduction in the GPA gap between White and Latino/a students. Further, this effect was replicated for both spring semester GPA and cumulative GPA. These findings indicate that light-touch interventions may be a minimally invasive approach to improving academic outcomes for underrepresented students. The findings also highlight the complexity of implementing customized belonging interventions in heterogeneous contexts.

While the underrepresentation of women in the fast-growing STEM field of computer science (CS) has been much studied, no consensus exists on the key factors influencing this widening gender gap. This study contributes to this literature by applying student engagement research to study the experiences of college students studying CS, to assess the degree to which differences in men and women's engagement may help account for gender inequity in the field.

The research team uses the Experience Sampling Method (ESM) to evaluate in real-time the engagement of college students during varied activities and environments. Over the course of a full week in fall semester and a full week in spring semester, students majoring in CS at two research universities were “beeped” several times a day via a smartphone app prompting them to fill out a short questionnaire including open-ended and scaled items. These responses were paired with administrative and over 2 years of transcript data provided by their institutions. Results suggest that despite the obstacles associated with women's underrepresentation in computer science, women are more likely to continue taking computer science courses when they felt challenged and skilled in their initial computer science classes.

This article examines the impacts of the Michigan Merit Curriculum (MMC), a statewide college preparatory curriculum that applies to the high school graduating class of 2011 and later. The analyses suggest that the higher expectations embodied in the MMC had slight impact on student outcomes. Looking at student performance in the ACT, the only clear evidence of a change in academic performance comes in science.

This study explores how often students are engaged in their science classes and their affective states during these times. The researchers worked with 7,000 high school students in the United States and Finland. Results show that when students are challenged in their classes and are appropriately skilled they are more likely to feel confident, successful, and happy during specific science classes as well as in other academic classes. When students experience more times of optimal learning in their science classes they are more likely to report that they perceive science as important to them and their futures. Females, however, report being more stressed in their science classes than males.

There are many promising psychological interventions on the horizon, but there is no clear methodology for preparing them to be scaled up. Drawing on design thinking, the present research formalizes a methodology for redesigning and tailoring initial interventions. The researchers test the methodology using the case of fixed versus growth mindsets during the transition to high school. The current research provides a model for how to improve and scale interventions that begin to address pressing educational problems. It also provides insight into how to teach a growth mindset more effectively.

This paper examines the impacts of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, a statewide college preparatory curriculum that applies to the high school graduating class of 2008 and later. The researchers use a student, longitudinal database for all public school students in Michigan for the main analyses, and complement this with analyses from a state-year panel. The study employs several nonexperimental approaches, including a comparative interrupted time series and a synthetic control method. The analyses suggest that the higher expectations embodied in the MMC has had little impact on student outcomes.

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