Doctoral thesis on how students' mindsets affect learning outcomes

Elin Svensen defended her Ph.D. in sociology, social work, culture, and society at the Faculty of Social Sciences on December 8.

Published Updated on
Portrett av Elin Svensen
Elin Svensen defended her doctoral thesis on December 8, 2023.

Research shows that students face challenges in school with different mindsets. Students with a more fixed mindset believe that innate talent is most crucial for learning. They will have less faith in effort and give up more easily.

On the other hand, students with a growth mindset believe that abilities and talents are constantly developed through what they learn in school and elsewhere. They will have more faith in effort and face challenges with an attitude that they can solve them through hard work, by asking for help, and finding the right strategy. Mindsets are influenced, among other things, by teachers and family.

Mindset is related to gender, social background, and learning outcomes

In her doctoral work, Elin Svensen has investigated whether mindset, i.e., students' beliefs in their learning capabilities, is related to background factors such as gender and parents' education, and whether it is linked to how much students learn in school. She discovered three important things:

  1. Students' attitudes towards learning vary with gender and social background. Boys and children of parents with lower education have less belief in the possibility of learning through effort, good strategies, and help from others.
  1. Attitudes towards learning opportunities in school are also related to the grades students achieved in primary school; both boys and children of parents with low education had a higher predicted degree of a growth mindset when they start high school if they achieved high grades in junior high. (These are correlations, not causal relationships.)
  1. Students' mindset when they start high school is related to the results they achieve. Even among students with the same grades from primary school, students who have a more growth mindset when they start high school will, on average, achieve better results.

In addition, she, along with Maximiliaan W.P Thijssen, investigated whether some classrooms in junior high seem to "produce" a more growth mindset among students than other classrooms in the same school. They found meaningful classroom effects on the degree of a growth mindset, and that such classroom effects predict choices and results in high school.

Analyzed data from the U-Say project

Svensen's doctoral project used data from a large survey in high school in the U-Say project. Over 11,000 students who started in Vg1 in two counties in 2017 answered questions, including what they think about intelligence, whether it is an innate trait or something that can be developed.

The survey responses were linked with data on grades from primary school and on grades and completion in high school for students who consented to this. In addition, information about parents' education and income, among other things, was obtained from Statistics Norway (SSB).

Svensen has used the data from U-Say to conduct quantitative, descriptive analyses on the relationship between students' beliefs about the possibility of learning and their school results.

Can provide teachers with a better understanding of motivation and how students can learn more in school

The research results can be used by teachers to understand more about students' motivation and belief in their learning capabilities. Students with a growth mindset will have different approaches to challenges and setbacks in school than students with a more fixed mindset. By being aware of how to strengthen students' belief in their learning capabilities, students can learn more in school.

Far too many students give up when they face adversity, thinking that they will never be able to do it or that it is too difficult for them. Students with a more growth mindset are less likely to give up when they encounter difficult challenges and instead think that they can achieve it through hard work, asking for help, and finding the right strategies.

The results can also be used in policy development. Often, there is a focus on improving students' basic skills in school by training them in more subjects. It may also be important to invest in strengthening students' belief in their learning capabilities to increase their motivation for learning.

Collaboration between the county municipality, the Research Council, and the University of Stavanger (UiS)

The doctoral project in social sciences has been conducted as a public sector Ph.D. and is a collaborative project between Rogaland County Municipality, the Research Council, and the UiS School of Business and Law. Svensen is employed in the Education Department of Rogaland County Municipality and works with statistics and analysis in upper secondary education.

Written by: Silje Marnburg Ellefsen

Doctoral defenses at UiS

New methods for characterization of impurities in chalk

Tine Vigdel Bredal has investigated different methods for analyzing chalk at core level and right down to the smallest s...

Numerical modelling of floating docks

Jianan Zhang has performed research on the numerical modelling of the floating docks. On 31 May, she defended her doctor...

Detects cerebral stroke using artificial intelligence

She is a radiologist at Stavanger University Hospital, he is a computer scientist. Now they have teamed up to develop a ...

Advanced methods for field-scale reservoir simulation

Anna Kvashchuk defended her dissertation for the degree of PhD at the University of Stavanger the 30th of April.

What influences nurses' career choices?

Leaders who support, listen to, and value their staff are extremely important for nurses' ambitions regarding further ca...

Design of autonomous underwater vehicles

Yucong Ma has researched dynamic analysis and design of subsea shuttle tanker systems.

Seismic inversion methods for reservoir characterisation

Nisar Ahmed has developed a workflow for seismic inversion methods to estimate the rock-properties in a reservoir.

Environmental risk assessment of enhanced oil recovery solutions

In his PhD work, Mehul Vora has contributed to new knowledge about the environmental risk related to shortlisted product...

Understanding the initial wettability of reservoirs

Panagiotis Aslanidis defended his thesis on wettability for core analysis. The purpose of his research was to link reser...

Maintenance of ageing structures and mechanical equipment

Fredrik Bjørheim, PhD candidate at the Faculty of Science and Technology, has investigated damage assessment and modelin...

Dissertation on policy instruments for entrepreneurs

Founder and entrepreneur Murshid M. Ali defended his dissertation for the Ph.D. degree in Management, Economics, and Tou...

Integrated solar panels in walls and roofs can be efficient power sources

“Norway’s cold climate is very suitable for building-integrated photovoltaics,” says researcher Hassan Gholami. He compl...

Synthetic polymers for enhanced oil recovery

In her doctoral work, Siv Marie Åsen has taken a closer look at what happens to different types of polymers when they ar...

Doctoral candidates and non-academic careers

Saeed Moghadam-Saman defended his PhD at the University of Stavanger 21 May 2021.

Qualification of new partitioning tracers

Mário Helder Lopes da Silva has developed a method for qualification of new partitioning tracers for use in Partitioning...

Meet ph.d student Ingrid

– You are given the opportunity to study risk analysis in one of the most internationally acknowledged research environm...

Temperature variations i chalk reservoirs

Tijana Voake defended her PhD thesis 22 January, and is now ready for new challenges.

Modelling of CO2 injection in tight shale gas reservoirs

Dhruvit Berawala's PhD project deals with numerical modelling of shale gas production and CO2 injection in shale gas res...

Defended thesis on permeability and stress in compacting rocks

The purpose of Emanuela Kallesten's project is to understand how stress state and pore pressure affect the permeability ...

Jaspreet became Doctor digitally

With around 25 participants PhD candidate Jaspreet Singh Sachdeva defended his thesis in a video conference in Teams Mon...

Study of nano-scale interfacial forces

Shaghayegh Javadi can welcome the Christmas holidays as Doctor Javadi after defending her PhD thesis November 25th, 2019...

Wettability estimation by oil adsorption

Samuel Erzuah defended his PhD thesis 24 September. Now he is moving back to Ghana as Dr. Erzuah.

CO2 mobility control with foam for enhanced oil recovery

With a thesis on a very topical theme, CCUS, Mohan Sharma graduated as the sixth PhD at the Centre.

How to make seawater smarter

In her PhD work, Remya Nair has investigated how "smart" salt water can increase oil recovery. 15 March she defended her...

Modelling of EOR transport mechanisms

Oddbjørn Nødland was the fifth PhD candidate to graduate from The National IOR Centre of Norway.

Completing the «toolbox» for studying IOR/EOR effects

Auditorium E-164 was packed at the public defence of Mona Minde's doctoral degree.

Could Raman spectroscopy be applied to enhanced oil recovery?

On June 6th, Laura Borromeo defended her dissertation. Her thesis evaluates if Raman spectroscopy could be applied to en...

Study of nanomaterials for recovery of heavy crude oil

Kun Guo defended the degree philosophiae doctor 12 April. He is the second PhD student to graduate from The National IOR...

How to manage geological uncertainty with decision analysis

Aojie Hong was defending the degree philosophiae doctor Thursday, December 14th. He is the first PhD student to graduate...

How does the neighborhood affect your quality of life?

Ana Llopis Alvarez defended her thesis December 2nd. She has investigated how living conditions affect how well we are d...

14 recommendations for a successful disputation

A disputation, the public defence of a PhD candidate’s thesis, is a serious matter. How can you prepare as best as possi...

Adjudication of the thesis (PhD Programme in Social Sciences)

The evaluation committee’s mandate is to assess the thesis and issue a written reasoned recommendation to the Faculty wh...

Saving newborn lives through ventilation

Robert Moshiro defended his thesis on making births in low-income countries safer.