Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Belle Booker-Zorigian, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Michael Hixon, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Jefferey White, Ph.D.


This mixed-methods study explored the relationship between growth and failure mindset with a student’s attitude toward challenge and the ecological factors in the classroom that lead to mindset development. The study included both a survey and individual student interviews. For the study, one school was with a low percentage of students with free or reduced lunch (10%–30%), one with a high percentage of free or reduced lunch (60%–95%), and one with an average percentage of students with free or reduced lunch (31%–59 %). A principal component analysis (PCA) was run to examine and analyze the survey items. The quantitative study set out to determine the impact of growth and failure mindset on a student’s attitude to challenge and examine how feedback within that context would influence that mindset development. For both, correlations the null hypothesis was not rejected. A qualitative portion gathered student insight on the instruction, interactions, and feedback that occur in classrooms that allow them to see failure as a positive step in the learning process. The study included 15 interviews that showed middle school students understand that mistakes and setbacks are a part of learning. It also highlighted that very few students had experiences in the classroom that helped them learn from those mistakes to become stronger learners. Common themes included: classroom instruction that embraces exploration and failure, quality of feedback; evaluation and grading practices; and time.

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