• Amba Brown

Research every teacher should know: growth mindset

Updated: May 9, 2019

In his series of articles on how psychology research can inform teaching, Bradley Busch picks an academic study and makes sense of it for the classroom. This time: an influential research project on growth mindset.

There is a wealth of psychology research that can help teachers to improve how they work with students, but academic studies of this kind aren’t always easy to access or translate into the realities of classroom practice. This series seeks to redress that by taking a selection of studies and making sense of the important information for teachers, as we all seek to answer the question: how can we help our students do better at school? This time, we consider growth mindset.

Growth mindset – the idea that intelligence can be developed rather than it being set in stone – is arguably the most popular psychological theory in education at the moment. It was launched into mainstream consciousness after a seminal growth mindset study almost 20 years ago and has since spawned many assemblies and form tutor-time activities. But what were the findings of this influential study?

The problem with praise such as ​​'you're so clever​' is that it doesn't tell students what they need to do next time.

Writing in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1998, Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck from Columbia University, New York, explored the consequences of how different types of praise affected students. The research paper is actually a combination of six separate studies.

In each, students aged nine to 12 years old completed a problem-solving game. They were then told they’d got 80% of the questions right and were praised for either their natural intelligence or how hard they worked on the task. The researchers reported on how the students felt, thought and behaved in subsequent tasks.

What are the main findings? Read more at the full & original article here.


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