The findings of an MDRC evaluation of a growth mindset intervention have suggested a positive impact on students’ academic performance.
To test whether a growth mindset intervention could improve students’ academic performance, the National Study of Learning Mindsets implemented a randomized controlled trial of a low-cost growth mindset intervention specifically designed for ninth grade students. The intervention included two 25-minute self-administered online training modules on the topic of brain development. Students 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, students 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 students’ average grade point average (GPA) (effect size = +0.04), as well as their math GPA (effect size = +0.05). Other results from the evaluation suggest that:
- The intervention changed students’ 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.
- Students who were lower performing at pretest benefited more than their higher-performing peers.
Source (Open Access): Zhu, P., Garcia, I., Boxer, K., Wadhera, S.. & Alonzo, E. (2019). Using a growth mindset intervention to help ninth-graders: An independent evaluation of the national study of learning mindsets. New York, NY: MDRC.