Growth Mindset in Mathematics
Math educators not only need to embrace their content, but the research available about the power of mindset. Our society’s acceptance of the attitude “I’m just not good at math,” needs to be changed! Our students’ ability to think and reason mathematically is key to their success.
The work of Carol Dweck on Growth Mindset impacts our view of students and teachers and how they learn mathematics. Dweck describes a Fixed Mindset as a belief that a person’s qualities, such as intelligence, talent and abilities, are carved in stone from birth. She describes a Growth Mindset as a belief that a person’s qualities can be grown and changed with time and effort. If, as educators, we can approach our students and content with the Growth Mindset in the forefront, we help our students harness the power that lies within their brain. Educators need to look at things like failure, mistakes, high level tasks, and struggle not as a hindrance to learning but rather as an opportunity for improvement.  
Jo Boaler’s work expands our thoughts on Growth Mindset to include the power of mistakes and struggle, the need for flexible thinking within mathematics, the importance of rich mathematical tasks, the teacher’s use of praise and the power of our words, and the need for students to speak about their mathematical ideas. As math educators, we need to embrace the power of cultivating a growth mindset in our students as well as ourselves. We can no longer accept the thought that “I will just never be a math person.” Research has proven to us that all students can learn mathematics at a high level. We, as teachers, hold much power and responsibility in helping our students embrace their growth potential!
Growth Mindset Research
  • Lower failure rates: Low-achieving students at 13 California high schools failed 7% fewer courses and improved their GPAs by .18 grade points after a one-period class designed to boost growth mindset.
  • Improved scores: After a group of struggling 7th graders in New York City learned to 1) think of their brains as muscles that grow with exercise, and 2) visualize new connections developing within their brains, their motivation and math scores improved at a time when math achievement typically declines.
  • Increased effort: Seventh-grade students receiving growth-mindset feedback (“I’m giving you these comments because I have high standards and know that you can meet them”) were twice as likely to revise and resubmit an assignment.
  • Blackwell, L. S., Trzesniewski, K. H., & Dweck, C. S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child development, 78(1), 246-263;
  • Dweck, C. (2008). Mindsets and math/science achievement. Prepared for the Carnegie Corporation of New York-Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education ;
  • Yeager, D. S., Walton, G., & Cohen, G. L. (2013). Addressing achievement gaps with psychological interventions. Phi Delta Kappan, 94, 62-65.
Videos on Growth Mindset
The happy secret to better work.We believe we should work hard in order to be happy, but could we be thinking about things backwards? In this fast-moving and very funny talk, psychologist Shawn Achor argues that, actually, happiness inspires us to be more productive.
Five Principles of Extraordinary Math TeachingGreat ted talk, Dan Finkel invites us to approach learning and teaching math with courage, curiosity, and a sense of play.
Highlighting MistakesGreat video showing a method for grading exams that turns the process into one of growth mindset and honoring mistakes.
My Favorite NoGreat video transforming the typical bell work warm-up into a growth mindset approach on mistakes.
Mindset Works Video LibraryCollection of videos for you to enjoy, and then share with students, parents, and colleagues to teach them about the growth mindset.
Dr. Alia Crum - Change your Mindset, Change the GameExplores scientific results that show the influence of the mindset on the body, and how changing the subjective mindset produced different outcomes.
Eduardo Briceno Ted TalkEduardo Briceno helps schools throughout the U.S. and abroad build learner capacity by instilling growth mindset beliefs and practices in students, teachers and the broader community.
Resources on Growth Mindset & the Science of Learning
Building a Mathematical Mindset CommunityPoster highlighting steps you can take to build this in your classroom.
Classroom Norms PosterPoster idea for classrooms on growth mindset.
Even Geniuses Work HardArticle by Carol S. Dweck
'Growth Mindset' Gaining Traction as School Improvement StrategyExamples of strategies being used around the country in growth mindset.
Growth Mindset Self Talk A-ZGreat poster for both students and adults.
Growth Vs. Fixed Mindsets - Student PracticeStudent worksheet on fixed vs growth mindset.
How to Improve Student Educational Outcomes In this series of reports, we take a data-driven approach to consider a few of the most active debates: Do mindsets matter? If so, to what extent? What teaching practices work best? Does education technology help?
Limitless MindJo Boaler reveals the six keys to unlocking learning potential, based on the latest scientific findings.
Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students' Potential through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative TeachingBook on Growth Mindset in Mathematics by Stanford University professor Jo Boaler.
Mindset WorksGreat website with tons of research behind mindset.
Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessBook on Growth Mindset by Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.
Retrieval PracticeRecommended books and reports that describe research on the science of learning and provide practical tips for classroom teaching.
Students' View of Intelligence Can Help GradesResearch on the impact of students beliefs and grades.
The Power of Mistakes: Creating a Risk-Tolerant Culture at Home and SchoolGreat article on the impact mistakes have on learning.
The Science of LearningResearch on how student learn best from Harvard University.
The Science of Learning - Deans for ImpactThe Science of Learning summarizes existing cognitive-science research on how students learn, and connects it to practical implications for teaching.
Train UglyWebsite on the science of learning and performance.
Two Mindsets HandoutPoster showing differences between fixed and growth mindset.
Welcome Back LetterGreat example of welcoming a student to a new year and starting off with a growth mindset!
YouCubed WebsiteFree resources for parents, Videos, Research on Mindset, and Great math resources for teachers.
Contact Information



Stephen King
STEM Program Manager
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Meg Richard
STEM Program Manager
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