Friday, March 25, 2016

Carol Dweck’s Six Thoughts on Growth Mind Sets

Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck’s research on fixed mind sets has become wildly popular. Her argument: people with fixed mind sets see strengths and skills as innate and unchangeable. People with growth mind sets understand that the mind can grow and change through effort.

Dweck has grown concerned that many of her followers mistakenly believe that helping students grow their skills is simply a matter of praising them rather than helping them to develop strategies for learning content and concepts with which they struggle. The Rules of Engagement blog at Education Week summarizes six guidelines that Dweck offers:

  1. Acknowledge the nuance in the research. Growth mindsets are not a magic trick that will solve every challenge in the classroom, Dweck said. The enthusiasm for the research sometimes leads to an expectation of unrealistic results, researchers have said.
  2. Everyone has a fixed mindset sometimes. There's a misconception that every student and teacher can be put into one of two categories: those with growth mindsets and those with fixed mindsets, Dweck said, but in reality, everyone "has a little bit of both."
  3. Name your fixed mindset. Dweck told of a consultant in Australia who encouraged business executives to name their "fixed-mindset persona" so they could have a fun, comfortable way of discussing it with peers. 

In schools, the name gives a quick identifier to the triggers students and teachers identify, and it helps them recognize their responses that might not be productive, she said.

  1. Move beyond effort. If teachers and parents want to nurture growth mindset in children, they should move beyond just pushing them toward effort. They should also help them identify new strategies and approaches so that effort can be productive. 
  2. Put mindsets into a greater school-culture context. The larger culture of a school can influence their mindset formation, Dweck said. Students are less likely to avoid "looking dumb" and more likely to try new approaches if they believe that their school is interested in their success.
  3. Don't use mindsets to label students (or yourself). Dweck said she's been disappointed to hear that some teachers have used a student's mindset as an excuse, saying things like "that child can't learn; he has a fixed mindset."

You can read more here.


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