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Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, along with other education researchers interested in growth mindset, have done numerous studies showing that when students believe their intelligence can grow and change with effort, they perform better on academic tests. Now, a national study of tenth-graders in Chile found student mindsets are correlated to achievement on language and math tests. And students from low-income families were less likely to hold a growth mindset than their more affluent peers. However, if a low-income student did have a growth mindset, it worked as a buffer against the negative effects of poverty on achievement.

Susana Claro, a doctoral candidate at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, along with Stanford scholars David Paunesku and Carol Dweck, wanted to know if at a very large-scale (168,000 students) growth mindset would correlate with academic performance. They found that it did at almost every school in Chile, a correlation stronger than they expected to find.

When students in Chile take national exams measuring language and math, they are also obligated to fill out a lengthy survey from the Ministry of Education on a range of subjects. Teachers and parents are also surveyed, which is why Claro and her colleagues have such detailed income information for each student.

“This is the first time that we measured that there is a growth mindset gap across socioeconomic groups,” she said. Researchers are convinced that growth mindsets are socially created, not biologically, so these findings suggest that something in the environment of children from poor families is fostering a fixed mindset.

“We don’t really know if changing mindsets of students is possible at a larger scale and how to work with teachers,” Claro said. She acknowledged that even when teachers are well intentioned, they might be sending messages to students that don’t promote a growth mindset. But, “good teachers do this naturally,” she said. “They send growth mindset messages, and we are learning from them and trying to disaggregate what they do... This is not the solution, but we can’t ignore this.”

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Learning analytics, educational data mining, formative assessment - all recent buzz words in educational research. In principle, the idea is to find theoretical frameworks, models, procedures, and smart tools to collect, aggregate, analyze, reason on and visualize large scale educational data. LEA’s BOX is a research and development project funded by the European Commission. The project aims at (a) making educational assessment and appraisal more goal-oriented, proactive, and beneficial for students, and (b) at enabling formative support of teachers and other educational stakeholders on a solid basis of a wide range of information about learners. That means, LEA’s BOX is a learning analytics toolbox that is intended to enable educators to perform competence-centered, multi-source learning analytics. More info at http://www.leas-box.eu!


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