Growth mindset for a better future
Is it possible to cultivate a growth mindset in children by influencing their parents’ mindset beliefs? A growth mindset is integral to success in life, so identifying steps to foster this mindset in parents will have key implications for their children, as well as for the region’s policies. With this in mind, El Salvador’s Ministry of Education, Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Bernard van Leer Foundation formed a partnership to conduct a regionally relevant study on the mindset of young children and their caregivers.
Research on growth mindset is largely limited to industrialized countries. Given how much mindset can impact performance in different situations, it makes sense for developing countries to tap into its power as well. A person’s mindset is defined by personal beliefs about qualities like intelligence, personality, and talents, and by how these qualities shape how a person sees the world and how they act. People’s mindset affects their motivation levels and how they handle setbacks and failure. People with a growth mindset tend to attribute their errors to a lack of effort and try to learn from these situations, while people with a fixed mindset blame their failures on a lack of ability (Schoder et al., 2017).
The project will explore the effect of cultivating a growth mindset among parents, as well as how they can transmit this mindset to their children. Participants will be divided into two treatment groups: (i) one group will learn about a growth versus fixed mindset through a video; and (ii) a second group will receive more intense treatment with bi-weekly mentoring meetings with community educators over the course of 4–5 months. For the second treatment group, the project will develop a plan to train parents on mindset theory with community educators and training materials. The project will also fund an initiative to collect data via phone and online questionnaires from 1600 caregivers of children ages four and six in the municipalities of Soyapango and San Salvador. This data will cover children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills, as well as parents’ perceptions, expectations, and beliefs, and data on families for performing a heterogeneity analysis.
Evaluation and Impact
After the interventions, the project will measure whether informing parents that intelligence, creativity, and personality are malleable rather than static can improve young children's behaviors and developmental outcomes and cultivate a growth mindset among them.