Stanford psychologist recognized with $4 million prize for education research

Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck received the inaugural Yidan Prize, honoring her innovative contributions to education research.

Stanford psychology Professor Carol Dweck was named a recipient of the inaugural Yidan Prize on Tuesday and will receive approximately $4 million in recognition of her innovative contributions to education and to fund future research initiatives.

Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck (Image credit: Mark Estes)

The Yidan Prize is the world’s largest international prize in education research and development. The award was founded by Charles Chen Yidan, a Chinese tech entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Joining Dweck as the award’s first-ever laureates was Stanford alumna Vicky Colbert, MA ’73, founder and director of Fundacion Escuela Nueva, an educational organization in Colombia. Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology, was honored with the Yidan Prize for Education Research while Colbert was recognized for Education Development.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be the inaugural recipient of this amazing prize,” Dweck said. “It will allow us to take our work forward and continue to innovate – to develop even more effective interventions for students and more effective materials for teachers to use in classrooms. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Dweck and Colbert will each receive a $1.9 million cash prize as well as $1.9 million in funding toward educational initiatives. The laureates will also receive gold medals during an official ceremony scheduled for December in Hong Kong.

Awardees were selected by an independent judging committee focusing on four major criteria: sustainability, future-orientation, innovation and transformation.

“To witness the level of innovation and dedication shown by the inaugural laureates in their work and the breadth and depth of the impact they have made is humbling,” said Yidan in a statement announcing the recipients. “The Yidan Prize was founded to shine a light on education that is transformative, sustainable and addresses the world’s needs as we look to the future.”

Dweck’s influential research intersects developmental psychology, social psychology and personality psychology with a focus on the growth mindset, the belief that intellectual abilities are not fixed attributes but can increase and develop in students when nurtured by the proper motivations and interpersonal processes.

Her work has been pivotal to promoting learning and achievement for millions of children by helping at-risk students realize that academic success is possible through effort and effective learning strategies. The results have helped enhance learning environments across the United States and are now aimed at providing educators with effective interventions to use with students to improve academic performance.

Dweck’s findings have influenced a new generation of psychology scholars to further explore the idea that how children think about learning could affect their academic success. The National Science Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Hewlett Foundation, among other research and philanthropic organizations, have invested in research examining growth mindsets. Additionally, Dweck and her collaborators have developed online modules that teach the growth mindset, reaching tens of thousands of students.

Dweck has been elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and is a Herbert Simon Fellow of the Academy of Political and Social Science. Dweck has also received the James McKeen Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Psychological Science, the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award from the American Psychological Association and the Atkinson Prize in Psychological and Cognitive Sciences from the National Academy of Sciences, among other honors.

Media Contacts

Carol Dweck, Department of Psychology: (650) 724-9063, dweck@stanford.edu

Milenko Martinovich, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-9281, mmartino@stanford.edu