A Growth Mindset for the Classroom & Beyond
Growth mindset is not just for business. It’s also important for students in school.
Carol Dweck’s research is summarized in Mindset, her book. It shows how fixed mindsets and growth predict learning, especially when faced with challenges.
Here are some examples of different mindsets and how educators can foster growth mindsets within the classroom and beyond.
Students with fixed mindsets believe they are incapable of doing anything. They have either the ability or they don’t (an “all-or-nothing” mentality). Their identity is defined by being deemed capable.
People with a fixed mindset see positive performance feedback as proof of their superiority, and an indication that they’re “somebody.” Negative feedback, which they are hypersensitive to, is a sign they’re “a failure.”
Failure is not an action for those with fixed mindsets. “I failed” or “I am a fail” is an identity. They gave up trying.
Students with growth mindsets, on the other hand, believe that their ability will increase over time. Students with growth mindsets believe that mistakes are part learning and that hard work and problem solving are the keys to success.
People with a growth mindset see negative and positive feedback as useful for learning and as a sign of where and how they can improve. They view feedback as desirable, even if it is not positive.
This mindset teaches that learning is not about instant perfection. It’s about learning over time and facing challenges, solving problems, and making progress.
Develop Growth Mindsets
Research shows that even small steps can lead to a lasting growth mindset.
Lewis, Williams, and Dawson (2020), for example, found that nursing students who received a one-hour growth mindset training intervention at the beginning of the semester saw a significant improvement in their growth mindset levels a few months later at the conclusion of the semester.
A second study published in Nature by Yeager et. al. (2019) found that students who have lower grades achieved at high school saw their grades improve after a short online growth mindset training. It also led to an increase in enrollment in Advanced Math courses. The results of this study were determined one year after the growth mindset training intervention.
This study also confirmed previous studies (e.g. Burnette, O’Boyle Vanepps and Pollak, 2013) that growth mindset training is most effective for individuals “confronting difficulties.”
A meta-analysis of growth mindset training interventions in educational settings found that intervention length and number did not increase or decrease academic achievement over the long-term (usually measured after a semester or year) (Sisk, Burgoyne Sun, Butler & Macnamara 2018, 2018).
The same meta-analysis found that growth mindset training interventions did not result in significant behavioral changes for students and teens. Growth mindset training interventions have been shown to increase academic achievement and long-term growth mindset for economically disadvantaged students and students at high academic risk.
Watch the Webinar “Cultivating Growth Mindset”
This recording of the Cultivating growth mindset in the Classroom & Beyond webinar features Dr. Chuck Williams (author) and Dr. Shad. Morris (author). Dr. Williams is the author of MGMT Management and Effective Management and coauthor of BUSN. Dr. Shad Morris co-authored Managing Human Resources.
More Resources and Information
Duhigg. The Power of Habit: Why we Do What We Do in Life and Business. Charles Duhigg: Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 7, 2014.
Dweck, Mindset. The New Psychology of Success: Ballantine Books. Reprint, Updated edition (December 26, 2007.
B.J. Fogg, Tiny Habits – The Small Changes That Change Everything: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (December 31, 2019, also see www.tinyhabits.com
Dweck, “The Growth Mindset”, – Carol Dweck – Talks at Google – YouTube, July 16, 2015.
Dweck, “Teaching a Growth Mindset” – Carol Dweck – YouTube November 3, 2015.
Morris, “What is Growth Mindset?” YouTube, August 11, 2020.
Farnam Street, Carol Dweck on Creating A Growth Mindset at Work,” Farnam Street. accessed October 16, 2019.
MacKay. “How a Growth Mindset Keeps you Competitive in a Changing World,” RescueTime. Blog, August 14, 2018. accessed October 16, 2019.
Thackray, “10 Tips to Create a Growth Mindset at Work,” Positive Change Guru, September 8, 2018. accessed October 16, 2019.