Giving Compass' Take:

• Research from psychologists Carol Dweck and Greg Walton indicates developing a growth mindset through an online learning class can significantly help students transition into high school.

• Authors say that the next phase of the research is to implement a growth mindset approach directly within learning environments. How can donors provide support to make this happen? 

• Read about donors who are already supportive of the growth mindset.  

High school students who took a 50-minute online course to help them cultivate a growth mindset—the belief that intellectual abilities are not fixed but can be developed—earned significantly higher grades, according to new research by Stanford University psychologists Carol Dweck and Greg Walton.

On average, the grade point averages of students who took the online course increased by 0.10 grade points and the number of students with a D or an F average decreased by over 5 percentage points in comparison to students who did not take the online course. This effect compares favorably with the results from far more costly or lengthy successful school reforms for teenagers, Dweck says.

The findings from the research, called the National Study of Learning Mindsets, appear in Nature.

The new research, which examined a nationally representative sample of 12,000 ninth-graders in the United States, focuses on how the lessons from Dweck’s research could help students who are making the challenging transition to high school.

“The early research showed that helping students develop a growth mindset could be a new way to help more students succeed,” says Dweck. “Now, as a field we are starting to understand how to do this at scale—and we are understanding the role of supportive learning environments that can maximize the benefits of a growth mindset.”

The researchers, from the Mindset Scholars Network, found that both lower- and higher-achieving students benefited academically from the online course, which ninth-graders took at the start of their first year in high school. High-achieving students who took the online course were more likely to take harder math classes the following year.

Lower-achieving students who attended schools where they were encouraged and supported in taking on challenging assignments had the largest improvements in grades as a result of the online course, according to the research.

Read the full article about growth mindset by Alex Shashkevich at Futurity.