When It’s More Difficult, I Just Cram More! An Exploratory Interview Study on Students’ Mindsets in Physics

Verena Spatz 1 * , Laura Goldhorn 2
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1 Didaktik der Physik, Fachbereich Physik, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt, GERMANY
2 Institut für Didaktik der Physik, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Frankfurt am Main, GERMANY
* Corresponding Author
EUR J SCI MATH ED, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp. 92-109. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/10948
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In the US, Dweck’s research has shown that learners’ beliefs about their own capability are crucial for the learning success of children and adolescents. Two ends of this spectrum can be identified: learners who believe that they need an innate talent have a so-called fixed mindset. When difficulties arise, students with a fixed mindset typically do not see any purpose in continuing to try and fail because they believe they lack the necessary talent. On the other hand, learners who believe effort and hard work are key factors to success, have a growth mindset. They typically perceive difficulties as opportunities to improve their skills and therefore, the growth mindset supports learning processes and outcomes.
While there are several surveys on this general concept of mindsets, an examination within the context of physics learning has not yet taken place. For this purpose, an exploratory interview study on students’ mindsets in physics was conducted in a total sample of N = 51 middle school students in Germany and Austria using a standardised interview structure.
The interviews were analysed using qualitative content analysis. The results show that the concept of mindsets according to Dweck can be applied to students’ beliefs about learning physics, although a majority of 60 % of the students appear to be classified best as a hybrid between the fixed and the growth mindset.


Spatz, V., & Goldhorn, L. (2021). When It’s More Difficult, I Just Cram More! An Exploratory Interview Study on Students’ Mindsets in Physics. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 9(3), 92-109. https://doi.org/10.30935/scimath/10948


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