In this project we plan to provide a digital game for teenagers that will help them internalise a
growth mindset and develop so-called grit. While growth mindset principles have become more popular and widespread since professor Carol Dweck first coined the term, research by PISA in 2018 showed that on average, around 63% of students in OECD countries can be described as having a growth mindset, believing that your intellect is something that you can develop. That's a majority, but not a big majority. This is a shame, as students who believe that intellectual abilities are qualities that can be developed (as opposed to qualities that are fixed) tend to show higher achievement across challenging school transitions and greater course completion rates in challenging courses, even among students with less (educational) opportunities caused by poverty, as a 2016 national study among all 10th grade public school students in Chile showed. Growth mindset is an important topic to address especially for teenagers, as it enables them to fulfill their full potential and develop into happy, resilient adults.
Currently there are some tools that use the growth mindset, but most of them take the growth minded principle as something that is already in place. We want to focus on really internalizing the growth mindset first. Also we are determined to get the adults and peers around the teenager involved, as consistency is key to internalising this outlook.
During a short survey we did among teachers and youth workers, it was reported that the mindset of the parents play a big role in how children feel about their ability to develop their capabilities. If these parents become familiar with constructive ways to provide encouragement - focussing on process and not on 'inborn' talents' - the game will have a bigger impact.
Another issue we plan to address is the way in which the internet has had an impact on children's stamina and willingness to put in effort in something for a longer time span. In our preoperational survey, different teachers reported their worries about the way children have become very used to immediate responses and successes. One teacher wrote: 'Nowadays, young people even if they want to learn a new skill they don't have the patience, system and stamina to learn something from zero. As a generation they are used to easy and fast access to knowledge which doesn't necessarily means access to learning something.' As contradictory as it may sound, we believe there are ways to mitigate this tendency through a game app. We want to explore the right game mechanics for this.
Ideally, the game would 'celebrate' failing and having different talents. By evaluating together, you get to directly experience that everyone has their own flaws and skills that they need to work harder at. This will make it less scary to try something new. We think the game format is a very good way to actively engage users with the material, addressing a need that also was mentioned in our orientation survey: teachers feel that growth interventions should play a role in the classroom, but as soon as the material is too 'schooly' it is considered boring by the students. They tend to get more excited if the material is presented in a technological exciting way. The game format is very fitting to internalizing the growth mindset, as it provides a safe environment to fail. The whole appeal of a (video) game is to keep trying without real consequences. You just start a new round or play the same level again.