How Growth Mindset Interventions Are Operationalised in Primary Schools

  • Heather Savvides

Student thesis: Doctor of Educational and Child Psychology


Growth mindset is a concept which is gaining in popularity in schools and the media, largely inspired by the work of Carol Dweck. The idea that intelligence is not fixed, but malleable and that it is possible to inspire children and young people to achieve their best, is attractive to parents and educators alike. A body of evidence exists for the positive effects of a growth mindset in areas of activity as diverse as sporting prowess and economic achievements. Schools worldwide are increasingly adopting growth mindset to support their pupils either through bespoke interventions or through whole-school, cultural approaches. A systematic literature review was completed to find out about practice in primary schools, to address the question: How is the growth mindset concept informing interventions in primary schools? A PRISMA framework was used to structure the review, with studies being screened to make sure they met with agreed inclusion criteria. A weight of evidence framework was employed to improve the judgement around the quality and relevance of the selected studies. Studies were assessed using a pre-existing framework to see if they were of suitable quality. The included studies gave positive support for the use of growth mindset but the research field lacked rigour in its description and evaluation of interventions. A piece of exploratory, qualitative research was conducted to determine the nature of a whole-school growth mindset initiative in a British primary school. The study employed focus groups and semi-structured interviews and involved the children from a year 5 class as co-researchers in a collaborative, participatory research design. The data from interviews, questionnaires and focus groups was transcribed and thematic analysis applied. The research findings gave support for growth mindset and demonstrated insight into the learning pertaining to the group of children who acted as co-researchers. A final section to the project involved a discussion around evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence and the difficulties of conducting research in a complex, real-world situation, which is constantly changing. The implications for policy and practice are considered, together with thoughts on how the concept of collaboration between education practitioners and researchers, who are university-based, can be developed. A strategy for the promotion and public evaluation of the research was presented, to include a multi-strand approach of dissemination through journal and magazine articles, discussion workshops for primary school teachers and presentations to conferences, with the children being enabled to participate in this process, especially in disseminating information to other school communities.
Date of Award31 Dec 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorKevin Woods (Supervisor) & Caroline Bond (Supervisor)


  • growth mindset
  • primary school

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