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Teacher Mindsets and Student Learning: A Randomized Intervention in Rio de Janeiro

Tuesday, May 16, 2023 - 9:00am to 10:15am
Spring 2023
Lemann Center Conference Room

Tassia Souza Cruz, Professor at FGV EBAPE - Fundação Getulio Vargas

Teacher Mindsets and Student Learning: A Randomized Intervention in Rio de Janeiro

This paper provides original evidence on the effects of teachers’ mindsets on student learning from a randomized controlled trial in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The intervention consisted of workshops to build the belief that intelligence is not a fixed trait and collectively develop ways to bring said belief into the classroom. Using the random assignment of schools to the workshop as an instrumental variable for ‘growth mindset,’ we observe a significant effect of teachers’ increased growth mindset on student results measured by standardized tests. Notably, having a teacher with a higher growth mindset increases Mathematics results by more than half of a standard deviation. Language results are lower but still significant. These effects are impressive; few educational interventions generate such high responses, indicating the critical role of beliefs in student learning, particularly at schools in vulnerable areas like the Rio de Janeiro public education system. There are also strong indications that changes in teachers’ mindsets significantly impacted their pedagogical practice, which could explain the effects on student learning.

About Tassia Cruz

Tassia Cruz is a professor at the Brazilian School of Public and Business Administration and the executive manager of the Center for Excellence and Innovation in Educational Policies of the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV EBAPE). Tassia holds a Ph.D. in Economics of Education, and a Master’s in Economics from Stanford University. Tassia has previously worked in institutions such as the Brazilian Secretariat of Strategic Actions (SAE) and as a World Bank consultant. She was the coordinator of undergraduate teaching at FGV’s School of Public Policy and Government (FGV EPPG) and has published articles on the economics of education in national and international journals. Her research concentrates on education policy in Brazil, particularly the teacher labor market, education finance, and impact evaluations.