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Using Design Thinking to Improve Psychological Interventions: The Case of the Growth Mindset During the Transition to High School

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Abstract

There are many promising psychological interventions on the horizon, but there is no clear methodology for preparing them to be scaled up. Drawing on design thinking, the present research formalizes a methodology for redesigning and tailoring initial interventions. We test the methodology using the case of fixed versus growth mindsets during the transition to high school. Qualitative inquiry and rapid, iterative, randomized “A/B” experiments were conducted with ~3,000 participants to inform intervention revisions for this population. Next, two experimental evaluations showed that the revised growth mindset intervention was an improvement over previous versions in terms of short-term proxy outcomes (Study 1, N=7,501), and it improved 9th grade core-course GPA and reduced D/F GPAs for lower achieving students when delivered via the Internet under routine conditions with ~95% of students at 10 schools (Study 2, N=3,676). Although the intervention could still be improved even further, the current research provides a model for how to improve and scale interventions that begin to address pressing educational problems. It also provides insight into how to teach a growth mindset more effectively.
... Growth mindset is associated with higher academic motivation, ranging from higher self-efficacy, higher engagement, higher task value, and lower anxiety (Blackwell et al., 2007;Burnette et al., 2020;Chen & Pajares, 2010;Chen & Tutwiler, 2017;Degol et al., 2018;King, McInerney & Watkins, 2012;Samuel & Warner, 2021;Smith & Capuzzi, 2019). Individuals who hold a growth mindset tend to do better in school than individuals who hold a fixed mindset, the belief that intelligence cannot change (Blackwell et al., 2007;Claro, Paunesku, & Dweck, 2016;Costa & Faria, 2018;Sisk, Burgoyne, Sun, Butler, & McNamara, 2018;Yeager et al., 2016). Growth mindset has been described as a broad worldview, a personally held theory about how intelligence works that influences people's predictions about what will happen next and therefore, informs their behavior (Barger & Linnenbrink-Garcia, 2017;Molden & Dweck, 2006). ...
... Growth mindset statements may be particularly agreeable to Americans, where the cultural narrative espouses that those who work hard can achieve anything (Ledgerwood et al., 2011). In many studies of students (Blackwell et al., 2007;Yeager et al., 2016), parents (Haimovitz & Dweck, 2016;Pomerantz & Dong, 2006;Schleider et al., 2016), and teachers (Park et al., 2016;Yettick et al., 2016), Americans tend to self-report beliefs more aligned with a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. Even members of the media champion the importance of a growth mindset (e.g., Tugend, 2020;Whitener, 2021). ...
... Participants selected the proportion of difficult questions they would like to complete in three subjects (statistics, algebra, and calculus) on a five-point scale (1 = all easy problems, 2 = 25% hard problems, 3 = 50% hard problems, 4 = 75% hard problems, 5 = all hard problems; adapted from Yeager et al., 2016). The values for the three subjects were highly correlated and averaged together (α = 0.88) with higher scores indicating more preference for challenge. ...
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Although the belief that ability can change, a growth mindset, has been identified as beneficial for motivation and challenge seeking, recent criticisms of mindset theory have argued that mindset is a weak predictor of achievement in some circumstances. Meanwhile, researchers have qualitatively described adults who agree with growth mindset, but do not behave as though they believe ability can change (e.g., praise children for their intelligence), suggesting they may hold a false growth mindset. In three studies with US adults (N = 294), undergraduate students (N = 214), and elementary school teachers (N = 132), we used cluster analyses to identify individuals with a false growth mindset. Mindset groups were identified based on participants’ combinations of responses to the traditional mindset measure and two alternative mindset measures. Five groups were identified in each study: fixed mindset, moderate mindset, false growth mindset, effort mindset, and extreme flexibility mindset. The mindset groups differed in their perceived competence in math (Studies 1-3), preference for challenge (Study 1), challenge seeking on optional math problems and math value (Study 2), and beliefs that only some students can do math and math anxiety (Study 3). Findings suggest that holding an inconsistent set of beliefs, like a false growth mindset, might contribute to the disconnect between mindset theory and practice and that consistent responses across a variety of growth mindset measures may prove to be the most adaptive. We conclude with words of caution to the many researchers and educators who hope that growth mindset interventions can improve student outcomes.
... The intervention designed for this study proved not to be a "one-size-fits-all" approach-the intervention benefitted some but not other teachers. As such, we suggest that future development of wise interventions with teachers involve tailoring of the intervention message for pre-specified groups of teachers, ideally through iterative design and refinement (Yeager et al., 2016b). If researchers and teacher education and induction programs are interested in continuing the iteration, design, implementation, and testing of these types of brief psychological interventions, we recommend drawing on the principles of designbased implementation research (DBIR) and improvement science (IS) (Bryk et al., 2011(Bryk et al., , 2015Means & Penuel, 2005;Proeger et al., 2017) to ensure that improvements are evidence-based and meet the needs of participants in various teacher education/induction programs, as well as the teaching environments in which they are working. ...
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This study tests the impacts of a brief self-compassion intervention to support teachers in their transition to teaching. The intervention draws from wise intervention and contemplative induction techniques to shift teachers’ interpretations of professional stressors and, subsequently, bolster adaptive mindsets, beliefs, and orientations toward teaching. The study employed a pre-registered, double-blind, randomized controlled 6-month field experiment with first-year K-12 classroom teachers [N=119] from three graduate teacher education programs. Findings showed no main effects of the intervention. However, exploratory analyses revealed significant conditional effects of the intervention based on commitment to teaching. Implications for teacher education and induction programming are discussed.
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‘스트레스=부정적’이라는 인식이 팽배함에도 불구하고 스트레스의 효과성에 대한 개인의 관점은 차이가 있다. 어떤 사람은 스트레스는 무조건 부정적이라고 믿는 반면 어떤 사람은 스트레스를 통해 성장․발달할 수 있다고 믿는다. 이처럼 스트레스의 효과성에 대한 개인의 신념을 스트레스 마인드셋이라 한다. 본 연구에서는 미국인을 대상으로 Crum과 동료들이 개발한(2013) 스트레스 마인드셋 척도가 국내 다양한 직업군에서 사용될 수 있는지를 요인구조, 방법효과, 측정동일성 검증을 통해 살펴보았다. 대학생과 금융, 의학, 교육 분야에 종사하는 성인 531명을 대상으로 자료를 수집하였으며, 연구결과는 다음과 같다. 확인적 요인분석 결과, Crum과 동료들이 제안한 8개 문항으로 구성된 측정모형의 적합도는 양호하지 않았으며, 방법효과를 통제한 모형에서도 적합도가 좋지 않았다. 스트레스의 부정적인 효과성을 측정하는 4문항으로 구성된 도구(Stress Mindset-N4)와 긍정적인 효과성을 측정하는 4문항으로 구성된 도구(Stress Mindset-P4)의 적합도는 양호한 것으로 나타났으며, 그중에서도 Stress Mindset-N4의 적합도가 더 높았다. Stress Mindset-N4와 P4 도구의 직업별 측정동일성 검증에서는 전자는 형태, 요인부하량, 절편 동일성이 지지 되었으며, 후자는 형태, 요인부하량 동일성이 지지 되었다. 더불어 두 도구 모두 지각한 스트레스를 유의하게 예측하였다. 본 연구결과가 가지는 이론적, 실증적 의의를 논의하였다.
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Research in social psychology and education proposes that adopting a growth mindset of intelligence is an important mediator for student’s wellbeing and performance at school. As a consequence, wise interventions have been developed to target student mindsets and change their beliefs about how much their intelligence can grow with training and experience. However, the efficacy of mindset interventions are much debated as effects sizes vary a lot across studies. Here we hypothesized that the study environment, and in particular the teacher’s mindset about intelligence is an important moderator of mindset intervention efficacy. To causally test this hypothesis, six middle schools from underprivileged neighborhoods in the Paris area in France were randomly assigned to a no intervention condition, a condition with mindset interventions delivered only to the students, and a condition with mindset interventions for teachers and students. The result showed that the combined teacher and student mindset intervention condition was most efficient to increase the student’s growth mindset. This finding indicated that a short and easy to implement mindset intervention to teachers can help students develop their growth mindset.
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