Mark Palko points us to this op-ed in which psychiatrist Richard Friedman writes:
There are also easy and powerful ways to enhance learning in young people. For example, there is intriguing evidence that the attitude that young people have about their own intelligence — and what their teachers believe — can have a big impact on how well they learn. Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, has shown that kids who think that their intelligence is malleable perform better and are more motivated to learn than those who believe that their intelligence is fixed and unchangeable.
In one experiment, Dr. Dweck and colleagues gave a group of low-achieving seventh graders a seminar on how the brain works and put the students at random into two groups. The experimental group was told that learning changes the brain and that students are in charge of this process. The control group received a lesson on memory, but was not instructed to think of intelligence as malleable.
At the end of eight weeks, students who had been encouraged to view their intelligence as changeable scored significantly better (85 percent) than controls (54 percent) on a test of the material they learned in the seminar.
I can believe that one group could do much better than the other group. But do I think there’s a 31 percentage point effect in the general population? No, I think the reported difference is an overestimate because of the statistical significance filter. How much should we scale it down? I’m not sure. Maybe an Edlin factor of 0.1 is appropriate here, so we’d estimate the effect as being 3 percentage points (with some standard error that will doubtless be large enough that we can’t make a confident claim that the average population effect is greater than 0)?