The effect of a growth mindset in Maths

Wednesday 23 Oct 2019

Growth mindset is a learning theory developed by Dr Carol Dweck. It revolves around the idea that you can improve ability and performance through effort and hard work. The opposite, a fixed mindset, refers to the belief that a person’s abilities and talents are static. Years of research have shown that mindset is malleable and that if you develop a growth mindset, you can learn more effectively and efficiently.

A recent report applying advanced analytics to PISA data (the Program for International Student Assessment) has identified the factors that play a critical role in student achievement. PISA data is of interest given that it goes beyond the numbers, asking students, principals, teachers and parents a series of questions about their practice, attitudes, behaviour and resources. The conclusion was that after controlling for all other factors, student mindsets are twice as predictive of students’ PISA scores than even their home environment and demographics (which are usually the two greatest factors that affect student achievement in standardised testing results). Students with a growth mindset performed up to 17% better than those with a fixed mindset. To read the report, click here.

This year Living Faith has embraced a growth mindset as a focus. We launched our Growth Mindset Week across the school in Week 1 of Term 1. During this week, students learnt about growth and fixed mindsets and the benefits of a growth mindset during learning experiences and times of challenge. Additionally, our students have developed their growth mindsets on a weekly basis through their participation in Mindset Maths. This Maths program encourages our students to see mistakes, struggle and grappling as a natural and essential part of the learning process.

Although it is still early days, initial data suggests that our students’ understanding and achievement in Maths across the school has improved. Additionally, a survey undertaken by all students from Years 1 and 6 also indicates that more of our students are displaying a growth mindset compared to results from the same survey undertaken in 2018.

We are very encouraged by these results and look forward to our Growth Mindset Week in 2020 and furthering our growth mindset development through Mindset Maths next year.

- Rebecca McConnell, Director of Innovation and Learning