An Experimental Study of the Effects of Growth Mindset on Cognitive load and the Use of Retrieval Practice.

  • Annemieke Windt

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Students with a growth mindset are believed to perform better on learning tasks, because they are aware that learning comes with effort and are prepared to apply effort. More effortful learning strategies such as retrieval practise have also been shown to be more effective for learning. The current research aimed to understand if students with a growth mindset will choose more effortful learning strategies and if that choice will impact their experienced cognitive load and performance during recall tests. This research builds on recent research that indicated that a growth mindset would lead to a lower cognitive load. To research this concept, a single session online experiment was conducted in which participants learned word-image pairs on human anatomy and choose between retrieval practice or restudy as a learning strategy before they were tested on their recall of the word-image pairs. Ninety-one first year students from a university of applied sciences took part in the experiment. Results on all three recall tests showed that recall of the word-image pairs studied with retrieval practice was higher than those studied with restudy. However, the choice of learning strategy did not appear to be influenced by the mindset of the participants. Although no effect was observed for growth mindset on performance and cognitive load in this experiment, it is likely due to the small sample size. For further research it would be interesting to study the longer term and in bigger samples the effects of mindset on learning strategy choice, cognitive load and performance.
Date of Award26 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorKate Xu (Supervisor)


  • growth mindset
  • retrieval practice
  • cognitive load

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