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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Research by psychologists and economists demonstrates that many non-cognitive skills are malleable in both children and adolescents, but we have limited knowledge on what schools can do to foster these skills. In a field experiment, the research team investigates how schools can increase students’ perseverance in math by shaping students’ beliefs in their abilities to learn, a concept referred to by psychologists as “mindset.” Using protocols adapted from psychology, the team experimentally manipulates students’ beliefs in their ability to learn. Three weeks after the treatment, they find persistent treatment effects on students’ perseverance and academic performance in math. When investigating subsamples, they find that students, who prior to the experiment had less of a belief in their ability to learn, generate the treatment effect. The findings suggest that a low-cost intervention focused on students’ mindset can improve students’ engagement and performance.

While women have made progress in recent years, only 20 percent of engineering students are female, and the proportion of women receiving degrees in the sciences and engineering in the United States lags that of other industrialized countries (National Center for Education Statistics, 1995). This underrepresentation of women may have serious implications for women’s returns to education and may relate to occupational segregation and earnings inequality by gender (Linda Loury, 1997). As the economy shifts to favor these more male-dominated fields, there is concern that women will not be prepared to succeed. Does the presence of faculty members of the same gender impact student interest in a subject? This paper answers this question by estimating how having a female faculty member in an initial course affects the likelihood that a female student will take additional credit hours or major in a particular subject.

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