Adolescence is a tumultuous stage of transition that lays foundation for one’s health and well-being in adulthood. The daunting move into secondary (high) school often becomes a major source of stress for students witnessing a sudden drop in grades as well as confidence. These under-performing students are at greater risk of poverty and poor health in later life. An education system that promotes the belief that intelligence is ‘fixed’ and innate can inhibit self-motivation to grow and develop intellectual abilities. A simple change of perspective, however, has the potential to help students realize that constant effort leads to better skills over time.

A recent study has employed ‘social-psychological interventions’ to induce a growth mindset in ninth grade students of public high schools in the United States. The study used an unprecedented 12,500 ninth-graders through two economically-produced online sessions (available at no cost to secondary schools) focused on changing how students perceive themselves and their schoolwork, while also encouraging them to take on challenging opportunities in school. Lower-achieving students who participated in the intervention earned significantly higher GPAs at the end of ninth grade and the program increased the likelihood of both lower- and higher-achieving students to pursue advanced mathematics in tenth grade.

The behavioral science experiment, part of the National Study of Learning Mindsets, has yielded positive effects for thousands of students. Since the success of this intervention is majorly derived from its impact on post-experiment increase in GPA in ninth grade, the study emphasizes the role of supportive school environment and peer groups that promote self-growth through effort in the long run. The study also opens an arena for future interventions to address beliefs regarding other inter- and intra-personal challenges perceived during the defining years of adolescence.


Managing Correspondent: Rhea Grover

Original Science Article: A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievementNature

Original Press Article: Results from the National Study of Learning MindsetsMind Scholars Network

Read More: Progress in adolescent health and wellbeingThe Lancet Commission

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

25 thoughts on “Intelligence not fixed in DNA: an idea that boosted academic success of thousands

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