Have you ever wondered why two people who are seemingly equal in talent or intelligence fare differently in life? According to Dr. Carol Dweck, a psychologist from Stanford University, people’s beliefs about their traits and how they deal with challenges and failures play a huge role in whether people are successful or not.
In her book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, Dweck, suggests that having a “growth mindset” and not a “fixed mindset” can help students become more successful. According to Dweck (2006):
“In a fixed mindset, students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that. In a growth mindset, students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.”
At this point in the semester, students may be experiencing failure or challenges in their courses. How students perceive the failure or challenge may influence their outcome in the course. For example, students with a fixed mindset may approach a “D” grade on a math test by believing “I’m not smart” or “I’m not a math person, so why should I even try?” These students are likely to provide excuses for not putting in more effort in studying and completing homework assignments. These students are likely to give up. Students with a growth mindset would view the “D” as an opportunity to develop their skills and improve and learn from their mistakes. The poor grade would motivate these students to work harder.
How can you, as a +1, help foster a “growth mindset” in your student:
One way to help your student develop a “growth mindset” is to focus on the process, and not the student, when providing feedback. For example, if your student received a good grade on a term paper, you can say, “Your term paper turned out amazing. I loved how you developed an outline before you began writing,” instead of saying “Your term paper turned out amazing. You’re a genius!” If your student received a poor grade on the paper, you can say, “There’s room to improve. Let’s discuss what steps you need to take in order to learn and improve for next time,” instead of “You’re just not good at writing.”
Resources on Growth Mindset:
YouTube: Dr. Carol Dweck on Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets
EducationWorld: How Can Teachers Develop Students' Motivation -- and Success?