Honors Program Theses


Open Access Honors Program Thesis

First Advisor

Mason Kuhn


Science--Study and teaching (Elementary); Inquiry-based learning--Iowa;


The purpose of this study is to evaluate if teaching students about the growth mindset improves achievement on standardized science assessment in a classroom that uses argument-based inquiry (ABI) instruction. A critical part of ABI is also referred to as negotiation and is considered cognitively demanding for students. The demands of argumentation often make its implementation extremely challenging for teachers because students often do not have strategies to overcome the failure they will encounter during the process. ABI is a research-based instructional practice that has been shown to improve student learning in science. This study will look at specific aspects of ABI and ways to improve student negotiation. Specifically, I was interested if including the growth mindset will help teachers with the rigor of ABI instruction. In order for meaningful negotiation to take place, students must develop their claims, back them with evidence, and critique the claims of others. Deciding that an alternative claim has better evidence than the student’s current claim is not always easy to accept, and that is why teaching the growth mindset could greatly impact students’ ability to overcome their false beliefs and recognize that failure is a part of learning. To determine if lessons about the growth mindset led to more meaningful ABI experiences, a quantitative analysis of Iowa Assessment Science scores was conducted through a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA). Students in the study showed statistically significant growth in their science scores from third grade (where they did not learn about the growth mindset) to fourth grade (where they did learn about the growth mindset), which is encouraging data for teachers who use the growth mindset as a part of their ABI instruction.

Year of Submission



Department of Curriculum and Instruction

University Honors Designation

A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (28 pages)



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