Students transitioning into high school often see their grades drop, and while some shake it off, others internalize that stress. Researchers at UT Austin have concluded that how students think about themselves and their abilities could make the difference.
In a paper published in “Child Development,” researchers say they’ve discovered that students’ mindsets — their beliefs about whether intelligence is a fixed trait or something that can be developed — related to their likelihood of overcoming academic stress. During the first 12 weeks of school, 68 percent of students in the study experienced a decline in grades. But worsening grades only stressed out the students who believed that a person’s intelligence is fixed and can’t change.
Hae Yeon Lee, a psychology graduate student and the study’s lead author, says, “Believing that intelligence can be developed — or having what is called a growth mindset — may buffer the effects of academic stress.” This could be because a growth mindset leads students to proactively solve their problems, for example, by talking with teachers or boosting their skills.