Lecturing students on the fact that general intelligence can be improved and that certain races and genders are not naturally more intelligent than others (in-line with current research) can improve test scores–especially for members of the groups typically thought of as having limited intelligence.
It’s not just theoretical: the findings were applied successfully to schools in New York City, showing that “realizing that one’s intelligence may be improved may actually improve one’s intelligence“.
Despite a lot of evidence to the contrary, many people believe that intelligence is fixed, and, moreover, that some racial and social groups are inherently smarter than others. Merely evoking these stereotypes about the intellectual inferiority of these groups (such as women and Blacks) is enough to harm the academic perfomance of members of these groups. […]
Yet social psychologists [have] taught African American and European American college students to think of intelligence as changeable, rather than fixed – a lesson that many psychological studies suggests is true. Students in a control group did not receive this message. Those students who learned about IQ’s malleability improved their grades more than did students who did not receive this message, and also saw academics as more important than did students in the control group.