Department of Psychology

Growing Learners

I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures... I divide the world into the learners and non learners

Benjamin R, Barber

Who are we?

We are a group of education research psychologists, who are passionate about supporting schools and parents to improve their children’s expectations and attainment using evidence based practice to support them to become resilient, confident and effective learners. Everything that we offer is underpinned by psychology and education theory, and applied research showing what works.

What are mindsets?

A common belief is that people with high ability or self-belief in that ability are likely to embrace the challenges that they tackle in life with high levels of resilience, determination and success. However, it is not ability or belief in that ability that predict resilience and perseverance in the face of challenge and failure (see Dweck, 1999); rather it is the individual’s belief about the nature of ability (referred to as Self Theory of Intelligence, also known as Mindset).  

Growing learners logo

A Fixed Mindset is the belief that ability is something that you can’t change very much, you are born with it. With this belief failure is harder to recover from. To recover from failure those with a Fixed Mindset compare themselves to others that are worse than themselves or devalue the ability/subject (“I’ll never need maths outside of school”) to repair their self-esteem. They also avoid these types of tasks in the future, including misbehaving in order to avoid trying and failing; what we refer to as a self-protection strategy. On the other hand if a learner has a Growth Mindset they believe that ability is developable and therefore they bounce back from failure, adopting functional coping strategies like trying again, trying harder or trying a different way in order to succeed. The great news is that Growth Mindsets can be developed.

Interventions related to Mindset have been rolled out widely in the USA.  In summary many years of research has shown that:

  • children with a Growth Mindset do better at school
  • those with a Fixed Mindset will adopt self-protection strategies including avoiding difficult tasks and misbehaving
  • children can be taught a Growth Mindset
  • the way in which we give feedback and praise influences Mindset
  • these impacts on attainment occur as positive upward spirals via enhanced resilience to challenging tasks
  • different Mindsets in childhood persist into adulthood and have an impact beyond educational attainment
  • teaching a Growth Mindset raises pupils’ motivation and achievement
  • Mindset interventions are particularly useful in subjects that a pupil finds hard, with groups that have been subject to lower expectations previously and in preparedness for educational transitions

Latest News

Our fourth mindset story book: "The tale of Lucy Bell who wanted to learn to read and spell" is now available on Amazon and Createspace! More information here

Our fifth mindset story book: "Joseph's Play" is now available on Amazon and Createspace! More information here

We have a Twitter account, follow us at @GLearnersUoP

What we offer

Mindset Intervention Packages

We have developed and tested interventions underpinned by Dweck’s theoretical ideas. As a result of what we have learned via delivery across Europe, we offered several packages such as a whole school/college mindset intervention package, or a Mindset intervention champions package.


Growing Learners mobile app

We have developed a parents’ application for mobile devices to support children’s Growth mindset development at home.

Click to check out our mobile app

Story books about mindsets

We have created original books for a range of ages, communicating the mindset message in beautifully illustrated stories. 


Click here to see our story books



Further information

Here you can find more information about our previous projects related to mindset.

Click for further information

Our location

We are in the Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, King Henry Building, King Henry I Street, Portsmouth, PO1 2DY.  A map of the campus and details on how to get to and around Portsmouth can be found here.

How to contact us

For more details please contact the Growing Learners Team on 023 9284 6315, email or follow us on twitter @glearnersUoP