Staying Motivated During the Pandemic: The Role of Growth Mindset and Autonomy Support in Homeschooling

The challenges of school closures due to COVID have been significant for many young people. Recent research points to two factors that may support young people to stay motivated with schoolwork during such periods.

Growth Mindset and Autonomous Motivation: Fundamentals of Progress-Focused Work 

Self-determination theory and mindset theory are important foundations within progress-focused work. The image below visually shows how both a growth mindset and autonomous motivation play a critical role in delivering sustained effort and achieving meaningful progress.

An important goal of progress-focused work is to bridge the gap between different theories. While there has been a lot of research on growth mindset and autonomous motivation, there aren't many studies that examine both concepts at the same time. Ilona Benneker, Nikki Lee & Nienke van Atteveld (2023) did this recently.

Research Benneker, Lee & Atteveld (2023)

During school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people received less support from peers and teachers. As a result, there was a greater demand for autonomous motivation to do their school work.
Until now, little is known about factors that can protect against these kinds of negative effects. Using self-determination theory and mindset theory, Benneker et al. investigated how mindset, feelings of school exhaustion, and the three basic psychological needs of self-determination theory could predict changes in autonomic motivation when pre-pandemic motivation levels were taken into account.


The results of a sample of Dutch young people (mean age = 14.63 years) and their parents (mean age = 48.65 years) showed:
  • a growth mindset was positively associated with autonomous motivation during the school closures
  • feelings of school exhaustion were negatively associated with autonomic motivation 
  • parent-reported autonomy support was positively associated with autonomic motivation 


Both personal and family factors influence so young people respond to homeschooling. Both stimulating a growth mindset and offering autonomy support contribute to good motivation during situations where homeschooling is necessary.

This research suggests that a growth mindset supports autonomous motivation. It therefore seems useful to add an arrow between growth mindset and autonomous motivation in the above model.


Coert Visser said…
Link to paper

► This study examined the protective effects of growth mindset on school-related resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic and the mediating effects of coping styles. Results showed that students with a growth mindset were more resilient during the pandemic and used better coping styles. The findings confirmed that growth mindset is a resilience factor that can be trained. This study adds to the literature on the positive effects of growth mindset on mental health and fills a gap in the literature on resilience.