MAT Blog

Helping Students Develop a Growth Mindset

Posted by Marygrove MAT on May 22, 2014 11:42:22 AM

growth mindsetI’ve written about helping students develop a growth mindset before, but I would argue that challenging students to grow and realize their potential is just as important at the end of the school year—perhaps even more important— as it is throughout the year.

To help your students continue to develop a growth mindset, consider a few of these tips.

Do not attribute a student’s success to “being smart.”
Why though? According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, telling students they are smart actually lowers their motivation and achievement.

During a study, Dweck and her colleagues divided students into two groups; each was treated differently:

  • One group was praised for their ability and would hear things like, “Wow. You got eight right; you must be really smart.”
  • The other group heard things like, “Wow. You got eight right; you must have worked really hard.”

At the conclusion of the study, Dweck found that the students who were continually praised developed a “fixed-mindset” and began to believe that their intelligence was innate. As a result, they began to fear failure and thus avoided challenging tasks.

Use these prompts to help your students develop a growth mindset:

  • Say this (growth mindset) . . . "Your practice is really paying off. You're getting your math facts down."
  • Not this (fixed mindset) . . . "Wow, that was quick! You blazed right through those problems! You’re a math whiz."
  • Say this (growth mindset) . . . "You seem frustrated and tired right now. That means your brain is working hard. We’ll keep at it, and I know you’re going to get it."
  • Not this (fixed mindset) . . . "Not everyone is a natural at this. Let’s do a few more problems and then move on to something you’re better at."

Model flexibility
There’s an old adage, “We plan and God laughs,” and boy, ain’t that the truth? Adults learn this in time, but many of our students do not have the experience to handle sudden changes with grace.

Adaptability is critical to building resilience. We can teach students this skill through modeling it ourselves when things do not go our way. Take that lesson, for example…the one you spent hours planning, the one you were excited about…the same one that just didn’t execute the way you planned.

Instead of reacting with frustration, try something new. Never be afraid of abandoning a lesson and admitting to your students that things aren’t working.

Photo credit: IITA Image Library / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

 

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