WWC review of this study

Improving general chemistry performance through a growth mindset intervention: Selective effects on underrepresented minorities

Fink, A., Cahill, M. J., McDaniel, M. A., Hoffman, A., & Frey, R. F. (2018). Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 19(3), 783-806.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
    , grade

Reviewed: August 2021

No statistically significant positive
Meets WWC standards with reservations
Academic achievement outcomes—Indeterminate effect found for the domain
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
Significant? Improvement

Final Exam Score (Chemistry)

Growth Mindset vs. Business as usual

0 Days

Full sample;
565 students





Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.

  • Female: 57%
    Male: 43%

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The study took place as part of a General Chemistry course at a private university. Students participated in the study by completing activities that were incorporated into three online homework assignments.

Study sample

The analytic sample consisted of 565 first-year students enrolled in General Chemistry 1 in the fall of 2015 or fall of 2016 who consented to participate in the study and completed three online study activities. The Growth Mindset intervention group included 275 students and the “transition tips” comparison group included 290 students. Among the 565 students in the analytic sample, 57% were female, 76% were White, and 24% were members of a racial or ethnic group historically underrepresented among students earning a bachelor’s degree in chemistry or another STEM field, including Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and Hispanic students. Asian students were excluded from the sample.

Intervention Group

Students received three online study activities during the semester. In the first, administered two weeks before the first course exam, students read a short article summarizing research showing that the brain is malleable and that intelligence can grow with effortful practice on challenging tasks, and by developing new learning strategies with support from others. For the second activity, administered one week before the second course exam, students received a summary of the article’s key points and were prompted to write about how the article would affect their preparation for the upcoming exam. For the third activity, one week prior to the course final exam, students were prompted to write about how the article would influence their studying strategies for the exam.

Comparison Group

Students received three online study activities during the semester, administered at the same points in time as the intervention group received their assignments. In the first activity, students in the comparison group received a set of “transition tips” for college success that emphasized organization and time management, maintaining their health and balancing academic work with social and extracurricular activities, being an active participant in class, and using available resources to support learning the course material. The second and third activities prompted students to reflect on how the transition tips article would affect their approach to preparing for the second and final course exams.

Support for implementation

No additional information provided.


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