Teacher Mindsets Help Explain Where a Growth-Mindset Intervention Does and Doesn’t Work
A growth-mindset intervention teaches the belief that intellectual abilities can be developed. Where does the intervention work best? Prior research examined school-level moderators using data from the National Study of Learning Mindsets (NSLM), which delivered a short growth-mindset intervention during the first year of high school. In the present research, we used data from the NSLM to examine moderation by teachers’ mindsets and answer a new question: Can students independently implement their growth mindsets in virtually any classroom culture, or must students’ growth mindsets be supported by their teacher’s own growth mindsets (i.e., the mindset-plus-supportive-context hypothesis)? The present analysis (9,167 student records matched with 223 math teachers) supported the latter hypothesis. This result stood up to potentially confounding teacher factors and to a conservative Bayesian analysis. Thus, sustaining growth-mindset effects may require contextual supports that allow the proffered beliefs to take root and flourish.