Simple intervention to foster teachers' growth mindset

It is important for teachers to realize that the mindset of students can influence their performance and growth. Having a growth mindset —the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through effort—is important for success. However, did you know that the mindset of the teacher can also influence the performance of students? Research by Heyder, Steinmayr & Cimpian (2023) shows that deliberate reflection on teaching can contribute to the development of a growth mindset in teachers.

The importance of a growth mindset

A growth mindset is the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through effort, good learning strategies, help, and perseverance. Students with a growth mindset believe they can learn and grow, even if they don't know everything yet. This contrasts with a fixed mindset, in which students believe that their intelligence and abilities are fixed and unchangeable. Having a growth mindset can lead to higher performance, better motivation, less anxiety and better learning outcomes.

The importance of teacher mindset

Heyder and his colleagues' research focuses on the mindset of the teacher. A teacher who believes that abilities are fixed and unchanging will be less likely to believe in the potential of his or her students and less likely to make the effort to help them move forward. A teacher with a growth mindset, on the other hand, will believe in the potential of his or her students and be willing to invest in their development.

Purposeful reflection on teaching

Heyder and her colleagues investigated the effectiveness of a simple intervention to promote a growth mindset in teachers. In a randomized controlled trial, they asked 105 future teachers to write a short text about their mission as a teacher. The group that received the intervention was asked to reflect on how they as teachers can contribute to the development of students and how they can keep students motivated to learn. In addition, they were asked to think about specific actions they could take to unlock the potential of their students and to stimulate the growth mindset.
The control group wrote about a neutral subject, namely the daily routines and activities of a teacher. The group receiving the intervention showed a greater increase in growth mindset than the control group. The results suggest that deliberate reflection on teaching can strengthen teachers' growth mindset.

Implications for practice

The research by Heyder and her colleagues shows that deliberate reflection on teaching can contribute to the development of a growth mindset and thus contribute to a growth mindset of students. It therefore seems sensible to include such interventions in the educational system and educational practice.


Coert Visser said…
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► This research by Cruz (2023), conducted in Brazil, studied the impact of teachers' mindsets on students' learning processes through a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The intervention included workshops introducing the concept that intelligence is not fixed, aiming to integrate this idea into classroom practice. The results showed a significant positive effect of teachers' growth mindsets on student learning outcomes, with an increase of about 1.0 standard deviation in performance on language and mathematics tests. Evidence was also found for improved pedagogical practices, particularly in classroom environment and instruction, providing potential explanations for these effects. These findings are promising and suggest a direct link between teachers' mindsets and students' academic performance. The study underscores the importance of fostering a growth mindset in teachers as an effective strategy for improving educational outcomes, especially in areas with limited resources and conditions. The research demonstrates that changing teachers' beliefs about intelligence can lead to substantial improvements in student performance, offering valuable insights for future educational policy and practice.