Social scientists launch ‘Mindset Scholars Network’ at Stanford

New research collaborative at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences will advance understanding of learning mindsets that improve academic outcomes.

mindset-networkInterest in how students’ beliefs about learning and school shape their academic performance is growing rapidly. Research shows that when we help students understand they can grow their ability, feel a sense of belonging at school, and see the relevance and purpose of their studies, they are more motivated to learn and persist at challenging tasks.

Recognizing the potential for learning mindset research to help students get more out of school, 22 leading social scientists have come together to form the Mindset Scholars Network (http://mindsetscholarsnetwork.org/ and @MindsetScholars).

The Network will pursue an interdisciplinary research agenda to deepen understanding of the students and learning contexts for which learning mindsets have the greatest effect, and to identify the best ways for educators to cultivate them in a mix of settings.

The Mindset Scholars Network is hosted by the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.

“The field of learning mindsets has been gaining interest and momentum. But we haven’t had a coherent voice that can speak on behalf of the research community,” said Dr. David Yeager, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and co-chair of the Mindset Scholars Network. “The field needed an institution that could push the boundaries of what is known about how to use learning mindset research as a part of larger solutions in education, and then communicate in a timely way with the public, policymakers, and other scientific disciplines.”

Dr. Barbara Schneider, John A. Hannah Chair and distinguished professor of education and sociology at Michigan State University, co-chairs the Mindset Scholars Network. “This is a valuable opportunity to advance a body of research with enormous implications for expanding educational opportunity, and to find ways of connecting this research to schools and classrooms across the country,” Dr. Schneider said.

The Raikes Foundation in Seattle, Washington, provided funding to launch the effort.

“Compelling evidence already exists about the connection between learning mindsets and skills and improved student outcomes. But more research is needed to deepen our understanding of the cause and effect, and to identify the best methods educators can use to teach learning mindsets and skills,” said Zoe Stemm-Calderon, director, education strategy at the Raikes Foundation. “We are honored to support the important work that the members of the Mindset Scholars Network are pursuing.”

The Mindset Scholars Network features 22 social scientists from a dozen universities across the country. They represent multiple disciplines, including economics, education, management, psychology, sociology, and statistics.

The Mindset Scholars Network’s research agenda will focus initially on understanding for whom, and under what conditions, promising mindset approaches work best. The Network is launching with two flagship research initiatives: a nationally representative randomized controlled trial of a mindset program designed to ease the transition from middle school to high school, and the College Transition Collaborative, a research-practice partnership with 18 colleges and universities dedicated to increasing the number of students who make a successful transition to college.

Other research by Network scholars is focused on how students’ mindsets are shaped by the environment in which they learn, how best to measure learning mindsets, how mindsets transfer across domains, and how to tailor mindset approaches for varying cultural contexts.

The Mindset Scholars Network recently unveiled a new website, which will serve as a clearinghouse for the latest research on learning mindsets from across the social sciences.

“Our goal is to provide a valued, trusted resource for educators, researchers, policymakers, and members of the public who have questions about mindsets and mindset science,” said Lisa Quay, managing director of the Mindset Scholars Network. “In addition to an extensive catalog of scientific articles and new research initiatives, the Network’s website also features summaries of the scientific literature for broader audiences, FAQs, links to research-based resources for practitioners, and a blog that reports the latest findings and news from the mindsets field.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Laura Ascione