Stanford professor wins inaugural $4 million Yidan Prize

Carol S. Dweck is named as first laureate of education research prize for her work on the ‘growth mindset’

September 20, 2017
Arty close-up of an award
Source: iStock

A Stanford University professor has been named the winner of a new $4 million (£3 million) education prize in recognition of her research on the malleability of intelligence.

Carol S. Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology, won the inaugural Yidan Prize for Education Research on 19 September.

The Yidan Prize Foundation said that she was awarded the prize for her “groundbreaking research” on the “pioneering concept of the ‘growth mindset’ built on a fundamental belief in the malleability of intelligence”.

“The theory has become an influential concept in how children in the classroom are encouraged to evaluate and realise their full potential,” it said.

Vicky Colbert, founder and director of the Colombian organisation Fundación Escuela Nueva and co-author of the Escuela Nueva educational model, won the Yidan Prize for Education Development.

Her education project “uses a transformative ‘learner-centred’ model to integrate the curriculum, teacher training, community involvement and school administration in a coherent and cost effective way”, according to the Yidan Prize Foundation.

Professor Dweck and Ms Colbert were each awarded approximately $1.9 million in cash and a further $1.9 million to help fund their future research.

The Yidan Prize, the world’s largest international prize in education research and development, was launched last year by Charles Chen Yidan, the founder of investment company Tencent Holdings, which is the creator of free messaging app WeChat.

The prize aims to recognise education research and development that is forward-looking and can create sustainable impacts on education systems in the future.  

The two laureates were selected by an independent judging committee led by Kōichirō Matsuura, Japanese diplomat and former director-general of Unesco.

Dr Matsuura said: “The nominees’ work was judged based on four criteria, which are sustainability, future-orientation, innovation and transformation, and we were impressed by the extent to which the nominated research and development projects have excelled in all aspects, and their tremendous contribution made to the community.

“The education research is particularly future-oriented as it has proved, through cycles of experiments, that even a brief ‘growth mindset intervention’ in schools can markedly increase student performance. 

“The education project is sustainable for addressing the challenge of developing cost-effective, practical models for the tens of thousands of small rural schools.”  

Mr Chen added: “To witness the level of innovation and dedication shown by the inaugural laureates in their work and the breadth and depth of the impact that they have made is humbling." 

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