Mindset Theory and School Psychology

Kapasi A, Pei J. Mindset Theory and School Psychology. Canadian Journal of School Psychology. October 2021. doi:10.1177/08295735211053961


Mindset theory is an achievement motivation theory that centers on the concept of the malleability of abilities. According to mindset theory, students tend to have either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset about their intelligence; students with a growth mindset tend to believe that intelligence is malleable, whereas students with fixed mindsets tend to believe that intelligence is unchangeable. As described in many empirical and theoretical papers, the mindset a student holds can influence important psychological and behavioral factors, including reaction to failure, persistence and level of effort, and expectations of success, which ultimately impact academic achievement. Importantly, mindsets can be changed, and interventions have been developed to promote a more growth mindset. A growth mindset allows students to view challenges as an opportunity for improvement, is linked to enjoyment of learning, and increases motivation in school. School psychologists are often working with students with learning differences and/or mental health concerns who are particularly at-risk for poor academic achievement, and researchers have demonstrated the important impact a growth mindset can have for these vulnerable students. School psychologists are well-positioned to incorporate mindset theory into the school environment in order to best support the students they serve. In this paper we provide a theoretical overview of mindset theory and mindset interventions, and specifically review the literature on mindset theory for individuals with learning disabilities and mental health challenges. We discuss how school psychologists can incorporate mindset theory into their practice to support the shift from a fixed to a growth mindset for all students.

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