I updated “Mindset Marketing, Behaviorism, and Deficit Ideology” with selections from “How (and Why) Ed-Tech Companies Are Tracking Students’ Feelings – Education Week” and “Are Students Benefiting From the Growth Mindset Model?”.
Overall, weak effects across both analyses indicate that mindset alone fails to facilitate significant shifts in student academic performance and in-school success. While mindsets, also referred to as implicit theories, may influence educational trajectories, there are likely other factors that are better at predicting student success, such as school and classroom characteristics.
Mindset interventions have gained traction in recent years because they’re intuitive and marketable. The idea that confidence facilitates success is accessible and, as a result, it is incorporated into many programs designed to support students. Unfortunately, programs advertised to promote a growth mindset in students are often poorly developed, ineffective, or lack empirical support.
The notion that a growth mindset is enough to inspire success in students is also problematic, in that it disregards powerful circumstantial features of students’ in-school experiences, such as nutrition, poverty, instructional quality, psychosocial stress, external pressures, abuse, etc. Although future research may serve to disentangle the components of certain growth mindset programs that are effective and help to eliminate pieces that are not, perhaps the abundant resources devoted to growth mindset program development and research would be more appropriately applied to other efforts to improve in-school instructional quality and social-emotional supports.
“If you generate detailed information about students’ feelings, then it becomes possible to target them in sophisticated ways in order to nudge them to behave in ways that conform with a particular, idealized model of a ‘good student,'” Williamson said.
Government agencies and Silicon Valley companies deciding how students should be thinking and what they should be feeling-then collecting massive amounts of data and deploying invisible algorithms to enact that agenda-is something to be fought now, before the horse is all the way out of the barn.