Chloe-Rose Cutler Andrea Mallaburn David W Putwain Angela Daly


This paper explores the relationship of teachers’ intelligence beliefs and classroom instruction, in-particular teachers’ use of intelligence language. According to Dweck’s (1999) theory of intelligence, individuals can hold intelligence beliefs on a continuum from an entity theory, where intelligence is fixed, through to an incremental theory, with intelligence understood as malleable. Some research demonstrates congruence between teachers’ beliefs and practice; for example, teacher intelligence beliefs and praise language (Lin-Siegler, Dweck & Cohen, 2016). Other findings, however, report incongruence between the belief-practice relationship, such as intelligence beliefs and use of challenge (Rissanen, Kuusisto, Hanhimäki & Tirri, 2018a). Consequently, this study aims to further understand teachers’ belief-practice relationship in the classroom.

Pilot data were collected through mixed-methods, consisting of Dweck’s (1999) intelligence theory questionnaire, video-recorded observations, and semi-structured interviews. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings indicate that the belief-practice relationship is both congruent and incongruent; as teachers’ intelligence beliefs are not always enacted during instruction. Rather, intelligence belief and practice may be mediated by other personal beliefs and contextual factors, such as pre-determined target grades, class sets (low, mid, high), beliefs about students and student behaviour; however additional evidence is required.