Using Dweck's Theory of Motivation to Determine How a Student's View of Intelligence Affects Their Overall Academic Achievement

Keely Blair P'Pool


This study explored how student intelligence was directly linked to the goals and motivation held by students when engaged in academic settings. Students were administered a questionnaire developed by Dr. Carol Dweck in which they responded to statements in order to determine their individual theory of intelligence. Once this was accomplished, multiple student variables (including but not limited to first semester GPA, second semester GPA, ACT composite score, age, and college coursework) were compared to their view of intelligence to determine if any correlations existed. Results showed that there was no significant difference between students who viewed intelligence as malleable or fixed with regard to first semester GPA scores or the comparison between first and second semester GPA scores. The data from this research study supported other research by finding that approximately 15% of students were identified in the undecided category regarding their view of intelligence. There was no significant difference found between entity theorists and incremental theorists in regards to the theory of intelligence students held determining whether or not their second semester GPA scores would increase or decrease when compared to their first semester GPA scores. In addition, a significant difference was found between student views of intelligence and their ACT composite score. It was also discovered that there was a positive correlation between how students viewed intelligence and how they viewed talent development. Findings from this study suggest that praise can be both motivating as well as detrimental to students, and it is important that the correct type of praise be used when addressing students. It was also discovered that teachers can have a direct role in regard to helping students change their view of intelligence from an entity view, in which they view intelligence as a fixed trait, to an incremental view, in which they view intelligence as a malleable trait and able to change through their own effort and hard work. Future research topics are discussed in an effort to determine what strategies and methods can be utilized to allow as many students as possible to reach their full academic potential.