Posts Tagged ‘growth’

Mindset Dweck Carol 194x300 Fixed versus Growth Mindset

Have you ever noticed that different students have different attitudes towards learning?

Have you noticed that your more highly accomplished students relate differently to failure and what it means to develop mastery in an area? Have you noticed that some of your students take it quite personally and experience helplessness when they fail?

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, has written a fabulous book called “Mindset: The new psychology of success” that I thoroughly recommend for all parents, educators and organisations.

mindset Icon Fixed versus Growth Mindset

In its essence, Carol points out that it is the mindset that critically defines whether we are going to learn well or not, how we behave in relation to failure and effort, and how we pay attention to information. This is supported in work by Steve Zaffron and David Logan’s (Three Laws of Performance) and Dan Pink’s Drive.

What Carol points out is that there are two mindsets (and we have one of these two mindsets in different areas of our lives) – Fixed or Growth.


Fixed Mindset

  • Holds the belief that intelligence and talent are fixed traits
  • Talent alone creates success. Effort will not make the difference.
  • You either get it or you don’t.
  • Time is spent documenting intelligence or talent instead of developing them.
  • Holds belief that results are ~35% effort and 65% ability
  • Teaches in long CHUNKS of time and then CHECKS at the end
  • When confronted with a failure the normal response is HELPLESSNESS and “I can’t”
  • Under-represents past successes and over-represents past failures.

Growth Mindset

  • Holds belief that most basic abilities can be developed through dedication & hard work – brains and talent are just the starting point
  • A love of learning & resilience is essential for great accomplishment (& virtually ALL great people have them)
  • Attitude is that you can ALWAYS learn and grow
  • Holds belief that results are ~65% effort and 35% ability
  • Teaches in short CHUNKS of information and allows time to CHEW knowledge before CHECKING
  • Chooses more challenging tasks because it is about growth
  • When confronted with a failure the normal response is “I’ve learnt something” and “OK. What now?”
  • Failure is an opportunity to grow
  • Focuses on what they are learning not their feelings
As a parent, teacher or manager, what is important to understand from the two mindsets is that both can be developed and reinforced. If you are interested in developing a growth mindset then you need to look at how you praise people, the structures and practices of the home, school or work environment, and especially the self-awareness of the individual.

Fixed Mindset praises intelligence and talent

  • this increases cheating
  • sets performance goals but creates helpless response
  • undermines motivation

Growth Mindset praises the effort that led to success

  • Allows for growth because it reinforces the behaviour of effort
  • Encourages learning goals and a mastery response
  • Increases motivation and success
  • It empowers students because it allows them to struggle and overcome obstacles
One of the areas that Cathryn and myself are working upon is exploring with teachers how they are setting up growth mindset structures and conversations. As Kathleen Kryza and John Hattie expresses in their books, are teachers being intentional and transparent and making learning and learning outcomes visible?

As we work with teachers we are keenly listening for their thinking and speaking. Are they setting up learning activities and environments that develop a growth mindset? Are they speaking and listening to the students with the intention of developing a growth mindset?

We do this purposely because we know that if they aren’t intentionally developing growth mindsets than the impact of any other work we do with them will not make ANY difference.

What do you think?

dweck mindset Fixed versus Growth Mindset