A theory of change typology: Is mindset everything?

“India’s future depends on the quality of primary education.” — Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam

It is well known that when a country invests in education, its government and governance improves. Becoming better-educated, not only benefits an individual, but also everyone around him/her. Hence, education is a crucial commitment of our society. In order to keep the democracy thriving, and for the country’s future well-being, literacy, and mass education should be the highest priority for any government. A universal education is a key to national growth and prosperity.

1. What it takes to get ahead

Teachers play a crucial role in creating an environment that encourages continuous learning and improves student behaviour in the classroom. By implementing the right strategies such as positive interventions, motivating rewards, making students engaged with hands-on learning options, differentiating assignments to gain their attention, and making them believe in their abilities, educators can improve students’ self-efficacy and overall learning outcomes. Besides focusing on rigorous pedagogy standards, keeping the class motivated and encouraged is what it takes students to get ahead.

2. How to improve learning outcomes

Contrary to popular opinion, high socioeconomic factors do not contribute significantly to student achievement. According to a McKinsey report, students from low socioeconomic status were faster in acquiring academic skills than students from a higher socioeconomic status. Hence, the study outlines that, socioeconomic status is merely a factor behind driving outcome and students with high “motivation calibration” and “growth mindset” outperformed their counterparts from a higher socioeconomic status.

Motivation calibration is a mindset signifying the (desired) level of motivation. It’s about exceeding expectations, and being persistent, and not quitting what one has started. On the other hand, the growth mindset is about whether a student believes in hard work that can lead to positive outcomes. It’s not enough to teach students they are capable of growth, they should also be taught how to achieve it. Thus, it’s all about the mindset that is translated into actions through behaviour which is the most significant factor in driving results.

When a student is motivated and wants to give his/her best, it does not necessarily need to be a positive result. It’s about the effort and hard work. Having the right mindsets matters much more than socioeconomic background.

3. How technology can play a significant role in changing mindset

New technology-based methods of teaching and learning have the power to transform today’s education. The use of technology, digital exposure and moderate use of the Internet yield visible results on learning outcomes. With continuous access to computers, mobile devices, handhelds and distributed learning, several schools are transforming technological innovations into affordable and universal education. The McKinsey report points out, several schools from the developing countries across Asia with a limited budget are more benefited when the tech investments were made for teachers instead of students. For example: deploying data projectors and computers to aid teachers would have a greater impact than if you were to give one to each student.


Across all systems irrespective of any socioeconomic background, the mindset and behaviour of students that determines how they act, and view life matter a great deal.

Note to readers: The article is based on a recent McKinsey report on improving student educational outcomes with data analytics.  For your reference, please visit this link to the complete global discussion paper.

(Image credits – Pragyan Parimita Barik)

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Parimita Krishna

Parimita is a media professional and has been working in the overarching space of editorial and content-driven strategies. She is also a member of IEEE, an editorial contributor to Getty Images and a volunteer. Her endeavour over the period has been to work with underprivileged communities with a mission to up-skill individuals on digital literacy to create a sustainable environment, and work on the positive social and economic impact for them. She volunteered for the United Nations as an SDG Advocate to promote awareness about quality education and climate changes and its consequences at various levels. She is also a part of a nonprofit orgnisation.

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