EL Education.

Building a Culture of Growth: Academic Mindsets

What are academic mindsets?

Academic mindsets refer to the motivational components that influence a student's desire and will to engage in learning. 

The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research released a pivotal report in 2012. The research shows that academic mindsets are a better predictor of student success than any other determining factor. 

"Academic Mindsets are the psycho-social attitudes or beliefs one has about oneself in relation to academic work. Positive academic mindsets motivate students to persist at schoolwork (i.e., they give rise to academic perseverance), which manifests itself through better academic behaviors, which lead to improved performance. There is also a reciprocal relationship among mindsets, perseverance, behaviors, and performance. Strong academic performance 'validates' positive mindsets, increases perseverance, and reinforces strong academic behaviors. Note that this reciprocal, self-perpetuating system also works in a negative loop. Negative mindsets stifle perseverance and undermine academic behaviors, which results in poor academic performance. Poor performance in turn reinforces negative mindsets, perpetuating a self-defeating cycle."

Farrington et al. (June 2012). Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners. The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance: A Critical Literature Review. Chicago: University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Hierarchy of Learner Needs

Academic Mindsets for Learner Success. (n.d.). Retrieved October 7, 2015 from http://www.mindsetworks.com/go/academic-mindsets/

The Academic Mindsets Are:

  1. I belong in this academic community.
  2. I can succeed at this.
  3. My ability and competence grow with my effort.
  4. This work has value for me.

Learning Target

I can explain how students' mindsets influence learning. 


Other Topics in This Pack

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Read: Mindset and Learning

Here you will find a collection of resources that speak to the academic mindsets, as well as the complete report from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Academic Mindsets as a Critical Component of Deeper Learning: The Hewlett Foundation's framework describing the components of deeper learning.

Mindset Research HighlightsA collection of excerpts from important research about the academic mindsets. 

Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: A thorough literature review from the University of Chicago about the role that non-cognitive factors play in shaping a student's school performance.

  1. Explain the relationship between academic mindsets and success in school.
  2. What role can schools and teachers play in developing positive academic mindsets in students?
  3. Based on the readings, describe how students come to believe the academic mindsets listed below in a general sense. Then, describe how students come to believe the academic mindsets in your school or classroom.
    • I belong in this academic community.
    • I can succeed at this.
    • My ability and competence grow with my effort.
    • This work has value for me.

Dig Deeper

Here you will find several other sources addressing academic mindsets. The materials are written for a variety of audiences including teachers and parents.

Mindset Works WebsiteThe website for the Brainology online program developed by one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, Stanford University professor Carol S. Dweck, PhD, and her colleague, Lisa Sorich Blackwell, PhD. 

What's Your Learning Disposition?A brief and easy-to-read article including tips to foster academic mindsets. 

Discuss and Plan

  1. What are your goals related to explicitly teaching the academic mindsets to students in order to increase student motivation? Dream a little. Describe your vision.
  2. How might you achieve those goals?
  3. What obstacles might you encounter?
  4. How can you overcome those obstacles?