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Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: Dave Paunesku

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May 22, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Researchers: If students believe they can get smarter, they often do

Illustration by Donna Grethen / Op Art

Illustration by Donna Grethen / Op Art

Of all the factors that affect how — and how much — students learn, mounting research suggests the way they view intelligence is one of them.

Do they believe intelligence is something they can’t change, as fixed as the color of their eyes?

Or do they see it more like a muscle that, through training and effort, can grow?

At the Education Writers Conference earlier this week in Nashville, I spent a morning listening to three researchers who believe the latter, and have added to the studies that suggest that simply helping students understand that they can improve their intelligence leads to higher grades.

They think that’s because students are willing to work harder if they believe it will pay off, and are more willing to seek help because what they call a “growth mindset” removes some of the fear of looking stupid.

Even brief discussions of the malleability of the brain seem to boost achievement.


Comments | More in News | Topics: Camille Farrington, Dave Paunesku, David Yeager