Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy



Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Susan Kashubeck-West, PhD


Stephanie Merritt

Nelson, Mary Lee

Taylor, Matthew


Urban high school students have greater challenges with respect to retention and graduation rates than their non-urban peers (Farrington et al., 2012). Many academic initiatives have attempted to resolve the problems of retention and poor academic performance with little sustained success. For this study, the empirical literature was reviewed to identify a remedy for poor academic performance that may be implemented by school counselors. Focusing on non-cognitive skills, specifically developing a growth mindset, has shown promising results (Aronson, Fried, & Good, 2002; Blackwell, Trzesniewski, & Dweck, 2007; Yeager & Dweck, 2012). The underlying theoretical framework for this study is Dweck’s Implicit Theory of Intelligence (Dweck, 1999), which describes how belief in an incremental theory (intelligence can increase over time) results in a growth mindset. The goal of this study was to help students realize their intelligence is not fixed and they can grow their intelligence. The guiding question was, can a growth mindset intervention impact academic performance for students at two urban high schools? Changes in students’ academic performance, operationalized as core grade point average (GPA), were assessed before and after a three 45-minute treatment intervention and compared with wait-list control groups. The impact on mindset beliefs and attendance were also evaluated. Results from a sample of 69 students from two local urban high schools indicated that the intervention did not improve core GPA. A small sample size reduced the available power to detect significant differences. The intervention resulted in increased growth mindset scores in the students; however, no differences in attendance were found between the treatment and control groups. Implications for school counseling practice and recommendations for future research are discussed.

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