Education Research

Mindset #1 – measures

It’s fair to say I’m not a regular blogger. I always feel as if polishing lengthy posts is a waste of time. However, when I look at all the zillions of tweets I manage to cram out I feel that elaborating on some of the concise tweets I put out would sometimes be a good thing. So here goes; let’s see if I can get a twoweekly or so blog out. I’ll start with one on mindset, and specifically about measurement. I do not contend I can do any better than the (up until now) four fabulous posts on Slate Star Codex but will try to add some thoughts about measurement.

The first thoughts were based on the following tweet:

I think it refers to this study. (Claro & Paunesku, 2014). One of the authors is the is the person on Slate Star Codex’ blog. On the measurement of mindset in students it states the following:


This seems to me a rather concise scale (in reports these two questions are even referred to as ‘questionnaire’). The Education Endowment Fund also recently published a report on mindset.( Education Endowment Fund, 2015). Disregarding, the results for now (maybe a later post) the following questions were asked to determine mindset. The methodology section states:


So this gives three items. The same amount which is in this sample ‘mindset meter’ at Mindset Interventions Are A Scalable Treatment For Academic Underachievement also gives more information:

“we assessed this belief using two items: “You can learn new things, but you can’t really change your basic intelligence” and “You have a certain amount of intelligence and you really can’t do much to change it” (α = .84; see Blackwell et al., 2007).”

(Paunesku et al., 2015, p. 4)

So two items again. The Blackwell article is here; this article explored “the role of implicit theories of intelligence in adolescents’ mathematics achievement” by using SEM. The 6 point Likert scale is consistent; this article still uses the 6 items, which apparently were reduced to three and later even two. This feels like quite a limited amount to base a construct on? Of course it’s not necessarily wrong but the warnings in this paper by Eisinga et al. (2013) are there for a reason. I also wonder about the wording (knowing that with language, asking unambigious questions is notoriously difficult): what does ‘not really’ mean? One question says ‘do much’, what is ‘much’? The questions have two components so when I score a question high do I agree with both aspects or the relationship? Furthermore they seem to be a variation of the ‘confidence’ theme, an aspect which has been widely researched. I probably misunderstand the concept of ‘mindset’ when I think that ‘self-confidence’ covers this? In the 2007 Blackwell article the now called mindset questions are part of a ‘Theory of Intelligence’ scale which is part of ‘Motivational variables’. So there you have another element: motivation. I surely see how the role of self-confidence and motivation would influence achievement; how is mindset different? Further questions which I might explore in later posts.

Blackwell, L. S., Trzesniewski, K. H., & Dweck, C. S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78(1), 246–263.
Claro, S. & Paunesku, D. (2014). Mindset Gap among SES Groups: The Case of Chile with Census Data. Paper presented at the SREE Fall 2014 Conference.
Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Philadelphia: Psychology Press.
Eisinga, R., Grotenhuis, M., & Pelzer, B. (2013). The reliability of a two-item scale: Pearson, Cronbach, or Spearman-Brown? International Journal of Public Health, 58(4), 637-642.
Education Endowment Fund. (2015). Changing Mindsets: Evaluation report and Executive summary. Retrieved from
Paunesku, D., Walton, G.M., Romero, C.L., Smith, E.N., Yeager, D.S., & Dweck, C.S. (2015). Mindset Interventions are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement. Psychological Science.



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