A framework for using learning theories to inform ‘growth mindset’ activities

Anita Campbell*, Tracy Craig, Brandon Collier-Reed

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    28 Citations (Scopus)
    1651 Downloads (Pure)


    The social psychology theory of fixed and growth mindsets offers one reason for observed underachievement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), particularly for students who have previously excelled in these disciplines. Fixed mindset beliefs are linked to behaviours that can lead to avoiding challenges and reduced learning, such as concealing a lack of understanding to retain an image of being ‘smart’. The potential impact of a growth mindset on STEM achievement, particularly for minority and low-household-income students, resulted in calls to develop interventions that encourage growth mindsets and discourage fixed mindsets. However, education interventions are influenced by the educator's understanding of how learning occurs. A framework to show how activities based on different learning theories may encourage growth mindsets or (unintentionally) encourage fixed mindsets can guide the developers of growth mindset interventions. We present such a framework in six tables relating to key areas associated with growth and fixed mindsets: dealing with challenges, persistence, effort, praise, the success of others and learning goals. Each table gives examples of learning activities that may encourage growth or fixed mindsets, fitting with each of four key learning theories: behaviourism, constructivism, communities of practice and connectivism.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)26-43
    Number of pages18
    JournalInternational Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology
    Issue number1
    Early online date8 Jan 2019
    Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2020


    • Beliefs
    • Dweck
    • Learning design
    • Mindset
    • Behaviour
    • 22/2 OA procedure


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