“A national experiment reveals where a growth mindset improves achievement”

I don’t believe this result, from David S. Yeager, et.al., but I put it out for your consideration, just published in Nature and receiving much attention:

A global priority for the behavioural sciences is to develop cost-effective, scalable interventions that could improve the academic outcomes of adolescents at a population level, but no such interventions have so far been evaluated in a population-generalizable sample. Here we show that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset intervention—which teaches that intellectual abilities can be developed—improved grades among lower-achieving students and increased overall enrollment to advanced mathematics courses in a nationally representative sample of students in secondary education in the United States. Notably, the study identified school contexts that sustained the effects of the growth mindset intervention: the intervention changed grades when peer norms aligned with the messages of the intervention. Confidence in the conclusions of this study comes from independent data collection and processing, pre-registration of analyses, and corroboration of results by a blinded Bayesian analysis.

Big if true, as they say.  Via many of you, thanks.

Addendum: Alex covered this as a working paper last year with more details.


LOL. Sure, give it a shot. And when the follow-up is done and the effects are found to be ephemeral and not reproducible, then move on to some other amorphous hypothesis.

After enough of these studies, one would think people would figure out that the student is the constant.

@ T A-G - I guess you never heard of the Dr. Robert Schuller "Hour of Power" nor read the book "Wittgenstein's Poker: The Story of a Ten-Minute Argument Between Two Great Philosophers" by David Edmonds (who also wrote "Bobby Fischer Goes to War" about the Spassky-Fischer chess championship match of 1972)?

Time matters, as any chess player can tell you (it's called tempo).

The methodology and sample sizes here are impressive. It's also pre-registered. Assuming that no gross misstatements were made, this looks like a real effect. The problem is probably that it will fade out.

A newer study of 5,000 students found no effect for growth mindset. You can Google "exclusive growth mindset lessons had no impact"

That's why I give my students rimjobs. When you have a clean ass, anything is possible!

You would be the expert in that.

Are you spanking the monkey now?

What a sick puppy you are! Lol!

Intellectual high achievers often find the idea threatening that anyone can become an intellectual high achiever with an improved pedagogical approach, especially one that is not individualized.

Is that actually true? Based on your anecdotal experience, or what? I think it would be wonderful if that were possible, not "threatening".

"Growth mindset" seems like could be a fairly mixed bag, even if worked at all (doubtful).

More smart people drawn from the ranks of the working class would probably be positive. More people to talk to is good, and marrying intellectual accomplishment to a better cultural perspective is always a positive (people who've experienced real hardship and can't afford the many foolishnesses and fads of the elite).

But if it was achieved through giving them attitudes like the upper middle class and essentially turning them into ambitious, entitled, competitive strivers and grinds, it would probably be negative!

There's a lot of wasteful rank and status competition and elite overproduction in society, and it seems like anything that would improve talent, but with the intensification of that would be a mixed blessing. The spread of "intensive parenting" in place of natural growth is already bad enough - https://phys.org/news/2019-01-parents-hands-on-intensive-parenting.html.

Great point. So whatever they're doing at, say, Sidwell Friends in suburban D.C., just do that everywhere. "Let a thousand Harvards' bloom!," to put it more pithily.

well, it looks like typical academic & psychological nonsense ... full of grandiose generalizations and cutesy noveau terms ("growth mindset interventions). Hard facts are missing in its alleged support.

Apparently the basic concept is to somehow increase the self esteem/confidence of marginal high school students -- which then magically increases their learning outcomes (?)

Jt assumes educational failures are mostly the fault of individual students -- not the massive government educational bureaucracy that students are involuntarily thrust into... in their formative years.

One would think that after three generations, professional American Educators/teachers/administrators would have figured out how to get kids successfully through high school, especially disadvantaged kids.
But that is not the case.

I think it is useful to tell kids that success isn't just to do with genetic factors but that it's also about application. That's particularly useful in arithmetic and lower level mathematics where memory takes a person a long way to success.

I think it would work better just to tell them that basic maths was easy, intuitive and basically common sense rather than lean to cultural misconceptions that its hard but encourage them to apply themselves.

So much maths underaccomplishment seems like its because many kids dismiss maths as too hard or strange for the average person to understand. It's more about fighting that conception than a narrative of encouraging hard work, which would mostly play to the kids who are highly energetic and driven but narcissistic and self centered, the sort of people who are already a plague on society in many ways.

+1 to both of your posts.

There is not much diversity of thought in the teaching corps nor in the curriculum. There's a lot of PC proselytizing. Eliminating the teaching credential requirement would help by attracting smart people passionate about their area of expertise but not interested in wasting 1-2 years "learning" educational dogma.

I would love to teach math or physics - I have a BA in math and did some graduate study in same - but there's no way I am going to sit through 1-2 years of bullshit. Life is too short and my kids need me.

I've been meaning to tell you, now's as good a time as any....those aren't your kids.

As a useful rule of thumb, educational innovations work when first they are tried out by enthusiasts. But they fail when the attempt is made to impose them widely. This doesn't mean that all innovations are bogus - but that's the way to bet.

Or we could just get rid of the welfare state than manufactures ignorant people.

"that manufactures"

The specific intervention evaluated here—a growth mindset of intelligence intervention—addresses the beliefs of adolescents about the nature of intelligence, leading students to see intellectual abilities not as fixed but as capable of growth in response to dedicated effort, trying new strategies and seeking help when appropriate. ...The sample reflected the diversity of young people in the United States: 11% self-reported being black/African-American, 4% Asian-American, 24% Latino/Latina, 43% white and 18% another race or ethnicity; 29% reported that their mother had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Uh oh. How long before we get some version of this:

Alt-right: Notice that only 43% identified as white. Race and IQ are correlated and IQ is essentially fixed, so these results must be wrong. QED.
Mouse retorts: You guys are racists (race does not exist!) plus daily TDS.

A link to a description of the intervention, with more detail than one sentence, would be welcome.

Matt -- the details are unimportant.
Objective is to get published and gain some superficial prestige/publiciity.
Any research topic is Ok, if politically correct by current academia fashion.

"Feels good" to me...

One never knows Cowen's point, but our dear leader was greatly influenced by Norman Vincent Peale and the Power of Positive Thinking. Peale had an enormous influence on Donald Trump (he was the family pastor and father's friend). Indeed, Trump's version of faith is Peale. Today's evangelical Christians, Trump's base, are more disciples of Peale than disciples of Christ. What's your mindset?

"Trump's base, are more disciples of Peale than disciples of Christ. "

Rayward you just stepped in the sophistry!
where is the bias response team?
nobody expects the bias team!

Snake Oil- it's good for what ails you.

Maybe it was just avoiding damage done by the hour of instruction that they displaced.

"Indeed, a Lancet commission concluded that improving secondary education outcomes for adolescents “presents the single best investment for health and wellbeing”.

"...social–psychological interventions, which change how adolescents think or feel about themselves and their schoolwork and thereby encourage students to take advantage of learning opportunities in school10,11. The specific intervention evaluated here—a growth mindset of intelligence intervention—addresses the beliefs of adolescents about the nature of intelligence, leading students to see intellectual abilities not as fixed but as capable of growth in response to dedicated effort, trying new strategies and seeking help when appropriate12,13,14,15,16. This can be especially important in a society that conveys a fixed mindset (a view that intelligence is fixed), which can imply that feeling challenged and having to put in effort means that one is not naturally talented and is unlikely to succeed"

'Here we show that a short (less than one hour), online growth mindset intervention'

Talk provided courtesy of Quitters Inc.

This can't possibly be real. It may well be that they controlled certain interactions but the number of uncontrolled interactions is orders of magnitude larger and the effect is puny.

If I see ten studies that show this effect as well as a predictable change in the magnitude of the effect with the exposure to GMS "programs", I might think about believing it. But that's a long ways away.

Just the same, every teacher should be teaching that kids can improve their skills and abilities. Any teacher who's not teaching that should be taken out of the classroom. Every day for years *will* help. An hour a year? NFW.

It's absolutely amazing what a growth mindset will do for you. From day 1 everyone is inundated with the common wisdom that certain people are "smart" and that it is some kind of innate trait that they get from birth (eg. IQ). Personally, I was found to be dumb as a rock after taking some kind of standardized IQ test when I was a kid, I was put into special speech classes.

Then my grandmother took me aside and forced me to learn (mathematics in particular), despite me saying that I was "stupid" and that it wasn't even worth trying. She sat me down and told me that being smart isn't something you're born with, it's something that you can become. After she broke down my excuses, I finally began to learn properly.

Now I'm fairly high in my class in mechanical engineering, and doing research in economics.

It's this kind of folk wisdom that typically gets knocked down left and right when scientists look into it. That's what happened to the notion that rest is the "natural" state of matter, that's what happened to the notion of PMM3's, the notion of protectionism, and so on. I hope (but do not expect) that this marks the end of the common wisdom of significantly innate "smartness."

Just a disclaimer for people who are going to strawman my position: My position is not that genetic intelligence does not exist. Merely that it's not anywhere near as significant as folks make it out to be (primarily so-called "race-realists" who use this to fortify racist comments).

If your accomplishment level is fairly similar to most of your extended family or not too much of an outlier, sounds like you just regressed to the mean over time, and you're inferring false causality.

I’ve a similar story. My IQ was tested at 112 in high school but I didn’t like STEM subjects and was told I had no aptitude for them. I think I just wanted to be cool, not smart. At 20, a college counselor laughed in my face when I said I’d like to be an engineer. She replied I should think about the theatre. 6 years later, I finally started my scientific education and now decades after that, have made my fortune as a technical maven in my chosen field. Science and math are a constant source of joy in my life. In my case, I think I needed time for my brain to mature but also for the mounds of bullshit I’d been subjected to as an adolescent to be scrapped away.

This is based on Prof. Dweck's theory that some people's performance is influenced by what they believe they are capable of, and their belief that their capabilities are fixed, hence won't respond much to effort (or better study/test-taking tactics, etc.,--or not enough to justify the sacrifice of alternative activities, etc). The intervention is telling them that effort (etc., ) does have an influence of outcomes.
This is important in the USA where people tend to believe that IQ is fixed and highly determines outcomes. It doesn't apply much in places, such as most of East Asia, where people tend to believe that, although some people are more capable than others [not everyone is equal], effort (etc.,) tends to improve outcomes across the board.
So this is big news in America, old news in China, Japan, Korea.

There's fluid n crystallised intelligence. Growth mindset helps with the latter by encouraging learners to practice more to build up their crystallised intelligence. A lot of standardised tests are measures of crystallised intelligence.

Doesn't help them much when the problem is complex and novel.

As an adult, and in the context of mastering a musical instrument, I found the growth mindset thing extremely inspiring. That is, the idea that people who are good at things got there from hard work and practice, not because they are randomly naturally gifted or "talented". People who believe too strongly in innate talent are likely to give up or avoid challenges. I strongly recommend books like Peak, The Talent Code, Grit, and Bounce. Now, whether giving kids a little talking to, or making them watch a video, can change their worldview regarding natural talent is another question.

This doesn't agree with anti-egalitarian race theory about sola heredita, so it will be unpopular and ignored.

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