A major research publication recently released in the journal “Psychological Science” has called into question the notion of mindsets in academic achievement outcomes.
The theory holds that individuals with growth mindsets (beliefs that attributes are malleable with effort) enjoy many positive outcomes—including higher academic achievement—while their peers who have fixed mindsets experience negative outcomes.
The researchers explored interventions that have been designed to increase students’ growth mindsets in schools around the world, examining the effectiveness of mindset interventions on academic achievement and potential moderating factors.
Overall effects were weak for both meta-analyses.
Main results found that a correlation of growth mindset with achievement was (r = .1 – (zero point one)), and also that the effect of growth mindset interventions on achievement was also negligible d = .08.
Discussing the findings, Sisk and her colleagues highlight how some researchers have claimed that mindset interventions can “lead to large gains in student achievement” and have “striking effects on educational achievement”, but their results do not support these claims. Mindset interventions on academic achievement were non-significant for adolescents, typical students, and students facing situational challenges. The research concedes that academically high- risk students and economically disadvantaged students may benefit from growth-mind-set interventions. The authors of the study continue: “mindset interventions might need to be combined with other interventions to increase effectiveness”, and “resources might be better allocated elsewhere than mindset interventions.”
In conclusion, the study points to “Hattie, Biggs, and Purdie (1996) <who> found that the meta-analytic average effect size for a typical educational intervention on academic performance is 0.57. All meta-analytic effects of mindset interventions on academic performance were < 0.35, and most were null. The evidence suggests that the “mindset revolution” might not be the best avenue to reshape our education system.”
Victoria F. Sisk, Alexander P. Burgoyne, Jingze Sun, Jennifer L. Butler, Brooke N. Macnamara (2018) To What Extent and Under Which Circumstances Are Growth Mind-Sets Important to Academic Achievement? Two Meta-Analyses. Psychological Science, 1-23 https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797617739704
Hattie, J., Biggs, J., Purdie, N. (1996). Effects of learning skills interventions on student learning: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 66, 99–136.Google Scholar, Link, ISI