The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in the UK recently published findings from a large trial of an approach to "growth mindsets" which aims to encourage in students the belief that intelligence can be developed through effort and dedication.
A total of 5,018 students from 101 schools in the UK took part in the trial of Changing Mindsets, a program designed to improve math and literacy grades by teaching Year 6 students (the equivalent of 5th grade in the U.S.) that their brain potential is not a fixed entity but can grow and change through effort exerted.
Teachers received professional development training on approaches to developing a growth mindset, together with lesson plans, interactive resources, and practical classroom tips, before then delivering sessions to students over eight weeks. Teachers were encouraged to embed aspects of the "growth mindsets" approach throughout their teaching - for example, when giving feedback outside of the sessions.
The independent evaluation, by a team from the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), found no evidence that the Year 6 students who took part in the program made any additional progress in literacy and numeracy, as measured by standardized tests in reading, grammar, punctuation and spelling, and math, compared to students in the control group.
The EEF commentary advises that the lack of a positive impact in this trial, together with the limited number of evaluations of 'growth mindsets' programs in English classrooms, means teachers should be cautious about using the approach as a standalone method of improving student achievement.