Rethinking intelligence: The role of mindset in promoting success for academically high-risk college students
Increasing the effort students invest in academic experiences is an important component for improving their academic achievement. Previous research demonstrates that helping students view intelligence as malleable promotes constructive behaviors and leads to higher attributions of success and failure to effort. However, existing studies have not assessed whether implicit theories of intelligence directly affect actual levels of effort, and these studies do not examine academically high-risk students, who may be especially susceptible to a fixed view of intelligence and low levels of effort. This study utilized an experimental pretest-posttest control group design to determine if changing the way academically high-risk college students view intelligence affected their academic effort and achievement when compared to students in a control intervention. The study included data from 105 undergraduates who were enrolled in a remedial course at a private research institution and randomly assigned to either the treatment (N = 60) or control (N = 45) condition. The treatment condition received a 4-week online intervention encouraging the development of a malleable view of intelligence, or a growth mindset (Dweck, 2006). The control group received a 4-week online intervention bolstering students' study skills. Dependent variables were academic effort and academic achievement. Academic effort was defined as academic discipline, academic self-confidence, commitment to college, general determination, goal striving, and study skills. Academic achievement was defined as grade point average. A paired-samples t test conducted to establish treatment fidelity demonstrated that students in the treatment group had a significant change in perception to a more malleable view of intelligence, but no significant change in mindset was evidenced in the control group. A one-way MANCOVA was conducted to examine the effect of the treatment intervention on academic effort. Results indicated that students in the growth mindset treatment group reported higher levels of academic effort than those in the control group, after controlling for pretest levels of effort. Univariate ANCOVAs indicated that the treatment condition only significantly affected study skills, with students in the treatment group reporting significantly higher levels of study skills than the control group. An ANCOVA comparing semester GPA between the groups found no significant difference.
Rishi Sriram. 2010. "Rethinking intelligence: The role of mindset in promoting success for academically high-risk college students" The SelectedWorks of Rishi Sriram, Ph.D.