Bright Spots

Building a Mindset for Academic Achievement

By Chris Barba
Dec 14, 2018

There are two significant factors at the heart of a student's success—structural and psychological factors. Structural factors include socioeconomic background, access to resources, and strength of community institutions. Psychological factors include beliefs about individual and collective abilities, expectations for success, and perceptions about institutions and the communities they reside in.

Honing in on the importance psychological factors has on academic achievement, a recent study examined a national sample across all schools and socioeconomic strata in Chile. The study found that students who held a growth mindset, the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed, had higher levels of academic achievement. These findings were consistent at every socioeconomic level indicating that a growth mindset was also a meaningful buffer against the harmful effects of poverty.

This research underscores the importance a student’s self-perceptions has on their success inside and outside of the classroom. Building prosperous futures for students starts by instilling the belief “I can”. When educators, parents, and community members collectively and unconditionally think of students as capable learners it can have profound effects on the aspirations and achievements of each young person in the community.

Claro S, Paunesku D, Dweck CS (2016) Growth mindset tempers the effect of poverty on academic achievement. Graduate School of Education, Stanford University.