Growth Mindset Falters, Then Recovers

On December 12, 2019, Stephen Merrill posted that one of the most popular theories in education was put to the test last year when a large meta-analysis found that growth mindset interventions had ‘weak’ benefits, although at-risk students did see bigger gains. But a new national study, this one encompassing more than 12,000 ninth-grade students, gives new life to the theory.

Unlike previous studies, the new one employed a multi pronged approach. Students were taught a powerful metaphor: “The brain is like a muscle that grows stronger and smarter when it undergoes rigorous learning experiences.” They also reflected on their own learning and gave advice to future students who were struggling. The result? Students saw modest gains of 0.1 of a grade point and were also 9 percent more likely to take advanced math courses the following year. Students who were academically at-risk saw major gains, however, 11 percent were prevented from being off-track to graduate.

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