The findings of an MDRC evaluation of a growth mindset intervention have suggested a positive impact on pupils’ academic performance.
To test whether a growth mindset intervention could improve pupils’ academic performance, the National Study of Learning Mindsets implemented a randomised controlled trial of a low-cost growth mindset intervention specifically designed for ninth grade (Year 10) pupils. A total of 11,888 pupils from 63 high schools across the US took part in the intervention, which included two 25-minute self-administered online training modules on the topic of brain development. Pupils in the intervention group were given modules about growth mindset and were asked to answer reflective questions in a survey. Instead of learning about the brain’s malleability, pupils in the control group learned about basic brain functions, and they were also asked to answer survey questions.
The results of the evaluation found a positive impact on pupils’ average grade point average (GPA) (effect size = +0.04), as well as their maths GPA (effect size = +0.05). Other results from the evaluation suggest that:
- The intervention changed pupils’ self-reported mindset beliefs, their attitudes towards efforts and failure and their views on academic challenges.
- Immediately after the intervention, students were more likely to attempt more challenging academic tasks.
- Pupils who were lower performing at pre-test benefited more than their higher-performing peers.
Source: Using a growth mindset intervention to help ninth-graders: An independent evaluation of the National Study of Leaning Mindsets (November 2019), MDRC