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Success Stories out of the Institute of Education Sciences' SBIR Program: Mindset Works

Screen shot of The Mindset Works® SchoolKit®

Last Updated: March, 2023

Product Description:

The Mindset Works® SchoolKit is a web-based multimedia intervention to strengthen student success through teaching a growth mindset—the understanding that ability develops with effort and learning. The SchoolKit includes Brainology®, a blended-learning program with animations and classroom activities to teach students in grades 5 to 9 about the malleable brain and effective study skills. It also includes the EducatorKit interactive professional development program, which uses video training modules, classroom activities, assessments, and online supports to help teachers foster a growth mindset school culture.

Research and Development:

The Mindset Works intervention was informed by prior IES funded research and other grants, by a team led by Carol Dweck who studied adolescent motivation and beliefs about intelligence during challenging tasks, and whether modifying these beliefs supports learning, despite task difficulty and stereotypes about intelligence. The Brainology intervention was developed out of this research to foster a growth mindset in adolescent students, however the intervention could not be used at scale because it was paper based and required in-person educator training and professional development to support implementation.

The Mindset Works® SchoolKit was developed with the support of a 2010 IES SBIR Fast-Track award to deliver Brainology at scale through web-delivered animated modules and through automated training and professional development. All development occurred iteratively with feedback from students and educators in three stages. In the first, prototype components were developed and tested in one school with focus groups, observations, and online surveys to generate data on feasibility, usability, and engagement of each component. Based on these results, several elements were re-designed, and the beta version was piloted in 8 additional schools where feedback was collected and analyzed. In the final stage, all components were refined based on results from the Phase II pilot.

To demonstrate the promise of the product to support learning, a quasi-experimental study was conducted in two waves across 9 middle schools. Teachers participated in EducatorKit teacher training and 667 students in grades 5 to 9 completed the Brainology® program. Results from the pilots indicated that students and teachers found the SchoolKit usable, engaging, and helpful. Pre-post scores demonstrated significant increases in students' growth mindset, which related to increases in learning goals, positive beliefs about effort, and positive academic habits and behaviors (such as resilient responses to failure and better learning strategies). These changes also related to increases in students' grade point averages.

Through a 2015 IES funded efficacy trial, 50 teachers were randomly assigned to use Brainology as part of instruction in their classrooms or to continue with their typical instructional practices. Results demonstrated that for the nearly 2,000 6th and 7th grade student participants, the greatest benefits were found for those who were struggling and in classrooms where teachers endorsed fixed mindsets before using Brainology.


The Mindset Works® SchoolKit was commercially released in August 2012, and the program has been purchased by hundreds of schools and used by tens of thousands of students. The firm is commercializing the SchoolKit through direct sales and through a distribution partnership with Scholastic, which is marketing the SchoolKit programs to their district clients. In addition, Mindset Works has partnered with Scholastic to embed selected components in Scholastic's MATH 180 program. The District of Columbia Public Schools contracted with Mindset Works to implement the SchoolKit as a district-wide program for two successive years.

Industry Recognition:

  • Mindset Works SchoolKit was a finalist for a 2013 SIIA Education CODiE Award for “Best Instructional Solution in Other Curriculum Areas.”

Journal articles