Growth Mindset Definition: A growth mindset is a belief that you can develop your ability within any given area. For example, you believe that you can improve your academic, creative or sporting prowess.
People with a growth mindset do not deny the natural abilities and tendencies we born with, but they do believe that they (and others):
The growth mindset is often compared to its opposite – the fixed mindset.
Growth Mindset Definition – Nuance & Common Misunderstandings
While the idea of a growth mindset is quite simple, some common misunderstandings can make it a waste of time. What keeps Carol Dweck up at night?
It’s the fear that the mindset concept will be used to make kids feel good when they’re not learning.
Carol Dweck, 2017
This fear stems from some common misunderstandings that Dweck identified in her updated book. These misunderstandings included the ideas that the growth mindset is all about:
- Praise. Praise can be powerful but praising mediocre effort and actions is detrimental. And, it does not lead to your students embracing a growth mindset.
- Effort. Yes, we want students to work hard and persist through challenges. But effort is just one of the key actions linked to the growth mindset. When things are not working out, more effort is not always the answer. We want students to try different approaches and ask for help when needed.
- Actions. Again, we want students to try hard, to adjust their approaches, and to ask for help when needed. But praising such actions is not enough. You need to tie what your student did to the impact it had on their learning. Your students need to learn that what they did is linked to what they achieved.
Clarifying these misunderstandings is an important part of defining the growth mindset.
See Related Articles
Shaun Killian is an experienced teacher and principal with a passion for helping students to excel. He believes that assisting teachers to adopt evidence-based education is the best way to make this happen. Shaun is committed to bringing you practical advice based on solid research.