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Mind-set interventions on a larger scale

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A paper from researchers at Stanford University and the University of Texas describes how the institutions delivered brief online mind-set interventions to 1,594 pupils in 13 schools.

The authors reported that previous research on mind-set demonstrated the worth of small-scale interventions, and they set out to gather evidence on whether such interventions are practical on a larger scale.

Mind-set interventions seek to replace unhelpful fixed-mind-set attitudes where intelligence is viewed as unchangeable and praise focuses on passive aspects of achievement (“you are lucky to be so smart/talented”) with growth-mind-set attitudes where intelligence can grow and effort attracts praise (“you worked hard to come up with a good answer”).

Pupils allocated to intervention groups were given two 45-minute sessions two weeks apart (intervention groups had either growth-mind-set or sense-of-purpose sessions or both). Pupils allocated to the control group were given similar sessions but these “lacked the key psychological message that intelligence is malleable.”

One third of the study participants were considered to be at risk of dropping out of high school. Pupils in this subgroup improved their core subject grade point average after the mind-set intervention. Achievement of satisfactory grades (A to C) increased by 6% among the at-risk subgroup; there was no difference in satisfactory grades in the control group.

The authors concluded that their study demonstrated “the potential for academic-mind-set interventions to be effective on a wide scale.”

Source: Mind-set interventions are a scalable treatment for academic underachievement (2015), Psychological Science

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