Design, Sites, and Data Sources
The developers of this growth mindset intervention worked with ICF International, a data collection and research firm, to recruit a nationally representative sample of 76 high schools; conduct student-level random assignment; and, with school staff members, deliver the online sessions to the ninth-graders in these schools. As students logged in, they were randomly assigned to receive either two 25-minute growth mindset sessions or alternative sessions as described below.
Students assigned to the growth mindset intervention (1) were presented with information about neural plasticity that emphasized how brain functions can improve when one confronts new challenges and practices more difficult ways of thinking, and (2) completed writing exercises designed to help students understand and internalize the intervention message by applying the message to their own lives and restating the message for future students.
Students assigned to the alternative condition also read a brief article about the brain and completed a written assignment that involved answering reflective questions, but instead of learning about the brain’s malleability, they learned about basic brain functions and their locations. The experimental conditions were designed to look similar so that students’ instructors would remain blind to their condition assignment, and to discourage students from comparing their materials.
Additionally, ICF collected multiple sources of data on the local school context (math teachers’ levels of experience, attitudes and expectations, and instructional practices); student and parent backgrounds; student experiences, attitudes, and expectations; and student transcript data, including available course grades and test scores.