Fixed vs. Growth Mindset


9:00 a.m. Differentiate growth vs. fixed mindsets

- Intro video

- Define mindsets

- Examples

- Comparison video

9:15 a.m. Recommendations to develop a growth mindset in children

- Teach problem solving strategies

- Motivation

- Appropriate affirmations

- Constructive criticism

- Provide materials needed to improve

9:45 a.m. Apply it to the classroom

- teachers discuss their own experiences with students with different mindsets

- teachers discuss the importance of growth mindset

- Q and A


To begin, here’s a little video…



- definition: “based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” (Dweck 7)


- definition: “believing your qualities are carved in stone - creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over” (Dweck 6)

To further compare:


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1. Teach problem solving strategies

- Teach students how to remain in charge of their learning.

- No one is born an Einstein! Heck, Einstein wasn't even born an Einstein!

- Set small goals to reach the ultimate goal and complete the task.

- Example: Robert Wood and Albert Bandura completed a study with business graduate students. The students were divided into two groups, one a fixed mindset group and the other a growth mindset group. "The fixed mindset group was told their task measured their basic, underlying capabilities. The higher their capacity, the better their performance." On the other hand, the growth mindset group was told "that management skills were developed through practice and that the task would give them an opportunity to cultivate these skills." Both groups struggled with the high demanding task. However, it was only those with the growth mindset that continued to learn. "Not worried about measuring, or protecting, their fixed abilities, they looked directly at their mistakes, used the feedback, and altered their strategies accordingly." (Dweck 111)

- Trial and error, dedication, and being persistent is key. Life is about living and learning. When open to the possibility of failure, one can further broaden their knowledge.

2. Motivation

- Make practicing the material fun! Create competitions and rewards for the hard work and success.

- Focus on each student's individual improvements, not just winning.

- Example: Tiger Woods manages his motivation. He admits to making his training fun. He enjoys working on his skills to prove to himself that he can hit a certain shot on command. "And he does this by thinking of rival out there somewhere who will challenge him." (Dweck 102)

- Ensure students that one test or evaluation is not going to measure you forever, it is just a benchmark so you can see the areas that needs improvement.

3. Appropriate affirmations

- Positive labels (ex: "gifted," "billiant," "talented," ect.) negatively effect students because at that point they will develop a fixed mindset and believe that they are at the point of no improvement or at the point they need to be, which is never the case.

- Example: Seth Abrams wrote to Dr. Dweck. He admits he was continually praised for his intelligence and it had an adverse effect on his effort levels. He realizes that the high praises caused him to not take up challenges because he did not want to expose his flaws and weaknesses. He is "learning to apply himself to a task. And also to see failure not as a sign of stupidity but as a lack of experience and skill." (Dweck 74)

- Labels, positive or negative, may be dangerous. Praise them for doing what it took for them to succeed. (ex: "Wow, you must have worked really hard!" rather than "You're so talented!") (Dweck 74)

4. Constructive criticism

- "What did I (or can I) learn from that experience?"

- "How can I use it as a basis for growth?"

- Feel all the emotions that go with each event in your past that has measured you.

- "Believe that failures do not define your intelligence or personality."

- "Think about learning, challenge, confronting obstacles."

- "Effort is a positive!"

(all the above points, Dweck 54-55)

- Example: A former grad student received the reviews on her thesis research. Her paper was ripped to shreds and she was devastated. "She had been judged, the work was flawed and, by extension, so was she. Time passed, but she couldn't bring herself to go near the reviews again or work on the paper." Once she was reminded that that the critique's job is to comment on it only to make it better, the grad student happily worked on the revisions of her paper. She also admits that she never felt judged again. (Dweck 224)

- Change is hard and a growth mindset demands strength and determination.

5. Provide the materials needed to improve

- Encourage students to figure out why they missed what they missed

- Return old tests and go over corrections

- Provide organized study materials

- In class review sessions

- Example: Some college students did poorly on a test. They had the opportunity to look at the tests of other students. "Those in the growth mindset looked at the tests of the people who had done far better than they had. As usual, they wanted to correct their deficiency. But the students with a fixed mindset chose to look at the tests of people who had done really poorly. That was their way of feeling better about themselves." (Dweck 36)

- Know your students individually and guide them to the most efficient ways to improve

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- Teachers discuss their own experiences with students with different mindsets

- Teachers discuss the importance of growth mindset

- Q and A


Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006. Print.