Anxiety, Growth Mindset, Maths, Mindfulness

Growth mindset and mindfulness reduce maths anxiety

Stanford Psychologist, Carol Dweck, formalised the concept of a “growth mindset” following many years of research into what underpins learning and success. Those with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is malleable and can improve with effort and practice. On the other hand, those with a “fixed mindset” believe that intelligence is largely fixed and unchangeable – each person has a set amount and that’s all. 

Maths is a subject that instills fear and anxiety into many students. A recent pilot study by Tashana Samuel & Jared Warner from the University of New York has investigated whether a combined growth mindset and mindfulness intervention may lessen maths anxiety. The intervention was done with first-year university students and involved two groups: a treatment group and a control group. The students in the treatment group had an initial lesson about growth mindsets and mindfulness theories, and then at the start of each lesson the students would do deep breathing exercises, mindfulness exercises and repeat a series of positive affirmations, including: “I am capable of understanding math” and “I expect to make mistakes today, and then learn from those mistakes”. The students in the control group just completed their standard lectures without any growth mindset or mindfulness instruction. After one semester, the students in the treatment group had significantly lower levels of maths-related anxiety and higher levels of maths-efficacy – a belief that they could achieve in maths – than the control group.

If maths, or any other subject, is causing you or your child grief or anxiety, don’t underestimate the impact of fostering a growth mindset (here’s a blog post I previously wrote about this). Spend a little bit of time formulating some positive growth mindset affirmations (here are some great ones to get you started). Then at the start of each study/revision session, spend just a few minutes doing some deep breathing, followed by intentional mindfulness (try the 5 senses exercise), and then repeat your affirmations. It really works!

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash