Acknowledged in: How principals operationalize their beliefs in the school setting.

Wagner S.L. (2015). How principals operationalize their beliefs in the school setting. Doctoral dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved from

Abstract: Decades of research on implicit theories of intelligence have led to the development of the construct of the growth or fixed mindset (Dweck, 2006). Additionally, the characteristics of an effective educator are identified as believing in a growth mindset of ability, emphasizing the process of learning, setting high standards, creating a nurturing atmosphere and endorsing hard work, effort, persistence and resiliency (Dweck, 2006). These practices are related to the descriptors of a Socializing Intelligence environment in the Principles of Learning (Resnick, 2001). Principals establish the culture of their building through the implementation of their key roles as principals including establishing a vision of academic success for all students, creating an environment hospitable to learning and improving instruction (Wallace Foundation, 2013). This exploratory study is designed to ascertain the self-reported mindset of building level administrators and to assess the types of practices the principal endorses in her building. A regional sample of principals (n=142) from western Pennsylvania participated in the survey. The Theories of Intelligence Scale – Others Form (Dweck, 1999) and portions of the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Strategies Scale (Midgley, et al., 2000) were used to survey participants. Findings indicate that 77% of the building level leaders self-reported a growth mindset of ability while 4% self-reported a fixed mindset. The remaining 17% fell somewhere in between the two. These results are not reflective of the typical results when using the Dweck scale. PALS scale scores were normal and comparable to previous scores. Further correlation calculations showed no significant relationship between the principals’ practices and self-reported theories of intelligence. The principals in the survey sample endorsed the mastery-goal structure and mastery-approaches to instruction practices at a higher rate than the performance items indicating their promotion of practices that align with the Principles of Learning.

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