Date of Award

Spring 5-12-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Middle Grades Education - Mathematics (Ed.D)



First Advisor

Mei-Lin Chang

Second Advisor

Rachel Gains

Third Advisor

David Glassmeyer


This study aims to seek means to increase student productive struggle while adhering to the strenuous performance demands by our school systems. This study examines connections between growth mindset interventions, attitude towards struggle, and productive struggle in the mathematics classroom. Growth mindset interventions have been shown to change mindsets and to help students become more willing to engage in challenging problems and deal with difficult situations and struggle. Productive struggle is the engagement with difficult problems with the understanding that breakthroughs occur from confusion and struggle and has been linked with students’ conceptual understanding in the mathematics classroom. It has been suggested that productive struggle and growth mindset share similar habits of mind and viewpoints on effort, but there is a lack of research to link these two. To address the shortcoming in the literature on the relationships between growth mindset and productive struggle, a quasi-experimental design was conducted to examine the effect of a growth mindset intervention with 52 students in two classrooms of eighth-grade mathematics in the normal classroom setting (control group, n=25; experimental group, n=27). Bivariate independent sample t-tests, Mann-Whitney U tests, and Wilcoxon Signed Ranked Tests were used to analyze the data. The results indicated a positive effect of the growth mindset intervention on students’ theory of intelligence, students’ attitudes towards struggle in mathematics. However, there was no significant effect on the level of productive struggle. The findings and implications warrant for a better understanding of how growth mindset interventions may impact productive struggle, and possibly, conceptual understanding in the mathematics classroom.