Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education (MAE)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Madson Ankeny

Second Advisor

Christopher Smith


The purpose of this study was to examine whether teaching growth mindset, that intelligence is malleable and can be increased through persistence and effort, had an impact on students' perception of their abilities in mathematics. The participants were 23 fifth grade students in the Midwest. In this qualitative study, data was collected through surveys, self-assessments, reflection journals and direct participant observation. Four major themes emerged: I ) relationships and trust; 2) increased willingness to take risks; 3) asking questions; and 4) puzzles and problem solving. Improved relationships and increased trust were foundational to other changes, allowing the students confidence to self-advocate, seek autonomy and take risks by extending themselves and growing through learning, challenging and pushing themselves and others. Teachers can learn a lot about students through survey data but it should be only one of several tools they use to know their students. Teaching that intelligence is malleable may also be useful but greater value comes from forming strong relationships with students and building trust with all. Pseudonyms used throughout to protect the privacy of participants.


SC 11.MAE.2016.Sybrant.RM

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