According to the study data:
- Students with a growth mindset also score better on PISA.
- Growth mindset is associated with slightly higher score gains for girls than for boys.
- In East Asian countries, growth mindset is not as closely related to improved academic performance as in most OECD countries.
- Educating in a growth mindset can potentially diminish the adverse effects of unfavourable economic status on students’ academic performance.
- A growth mindset favours higher score gains for immigrant students than non-immigrant ones.
The report concludes that although a cause-effect relationship between growth mindset and academic performance cannot be proven, a positive correlation between them can be affirmed and explained in both directions:
- Students with a growth mindset are more willing to face challenges, push themselves, learn from setbacks and seek advice.
- High achievers are more likely to develop a growth mindset. They use appropriate learning strategies and are aware of how they improve. They may also associate their good results with their effort and perseverance. In contrast, low achievers may associate it with fixed characteristics to not hurt their self-esteem.
But what is a growth mindset?
Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, developed a theory based on a dual concept: growth as opposed to a fixed mindset. Today Carol is a world leader in education, and her ideas on motivation, personality and development were groundbreaking. In 2006 she published the book Mindset. The Psychology of Success, the result of her research into the profile of people who achieve success in life. The book soon became a worldwide bestseller and was the starting point in a change of mentality in educators, trainers, and coaches: it has changed the lives of students, professionals, athletes, and countless other people. Dweck says:
When someone has a fixed mindset, they believe that their basic skills, even their intelligence, are immovable; that they have a limit and that’s it: some are lucky, and others are not, so they cannot change. But when someone has a growth mindset, they believe that even their most basic skills can be improved.
His research is of great interest to parents and teachers because it is a source to turn to if you want to educate children and students with a growth mindset.
Two mindsets, one challenge
People do not have exclusively one of the two mindsets but both, though there is always some prevalence over the other. The challenge is knowing oneself well and deciding whether one wants to follow an active process that leads to effective change or to remain stagnant. Each person has to be aware of the perception of their difficulties in ordinary life situations, their motivation towards challenges, the importance of effort as a necessary action to achieve goals or the tools and strategies to be used when learning something new, to give some examples.