Date of Award

Spring 5-6-2022

Level of Access Assigned by Author

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Jim Artesani

Second Committee Member

Susan Bennett-Armistead

Third Committee Member

Sue Dorris

Additional Committee Members

Vanessa Klein

Annette Nelligan


The construct of growth mindset has become an increasing focus of educators as they seek ways to promote goal attainment among students. The growth mindset framework suggests that attributes such as high performance, skill development, and ability can be developed through motivation, sustained effort, and grit. Allowing for the possibility of continuing academic and personal growth, a positive mindset stresses the agency of perseverance and redirection in the face of challenge. Such an approach stands in contrast to a fixed or stagnant view of individual ability. Promoting a perspective of resilience and progress through growth mindset strategies is viewed as a potentially useful tool that educators who serve in a supportive role can provide through their own agency and role definition. The role of school counselors in this process reflects the nature of their supportive work with students. The agency of school counselors in promoting forward-moving direction and ultimate success through growth mindset approaches calls for examination. This qualitative exploratory research gathered data through two successive interviews each with five school counselors from northern New England regarding the targeted work they conduct with students for the purpose of promoting academic success. The study focused on the degree to which these elementary school counselors understand and utilize growth mindset orientation as a means of promoting the learning behaviors that further growth and achievement. The findings of this research identified a shared set of foundational elements that all participants establish to promote growth mindset. These elements reflect professional agency on the part of the school counseling participants, including engagement, relationship-building, meeting social-emotional challenges, and responsiveness. Those elements, in turn, facilitate the growth mindset practices of elementary-level students, with a focus on the agency of a strength-based focus, grit, resilience, and mindfulness. By examining the work of school counselors in a supportive role with young learners, while acknowledging the challenges they face, this multiple case study illuminates the impact of their professional agency on student growth at the elementary level.

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