Posts Tagged ‘perceptions’

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

I promised a week ago to point to a range of useful websites that one of the keynote speakers recommended and here it is!wio cover 202x300 The World is Open

At the NSW Conference on Engaging Learners Through Innovative Practice one of the keynote speakers was Dr Curtis Bonk (you can follow his blog here He spoke about the wide range of internet resources that are now available to motivate and engage learners.

Curtis generously sent me his new book The World is Open which expands on his talk about how the web is revolutionising education.

The main thrust of the book and Curtis’s talk is that technology and the availability of information and resources is now at the point that

“Anyone can now learn anything from anyone at anytime”

Let me quote some sections from the text”

“… Thomas Friedman argued that our world had been flattened by many technologies, most significant of which is the Internet, with its ability to find nearly any piece of information we might seek in the exact moment of need. As he showed, the commerce-related implications of this premise are enormous”

“In the twenty-first century, education trumps the economy as the key card to participation in the world. It is education, after all, from which robust economies are built.”

“We are living in a time period of the most monumental changes and challenges to arise in education since Plato held his first classes at his famed academy, Hekademeia, later known as Akademeia. Even in those days, learning in different locations and times was facilitated by technology as teachers and learners were shifted from exclusive reliance on oral traditions to instruction that included the written word. This, of course, was a historic transformation for the people of the planet because learning could now take place beyond a singular geographic location and moment in time.”

Curtis goes on to not only point to how we are now at a similar transformational period in human history but gives a range of examples. Here are some resources for you!

1. is an international ‘online learning community’ offering an alternative to traditional education for young people who are unable to engage with school or other complementary provisions such as home tutoring or specialist units.

2. CALM Chemistry: a free web tool to assist learning chemistry

3. Jing: A simple way to add visuals to your online conversations. Teachers can use it to explain processes online.

4. WolframAlpha: a computational knowledge engine that is quite remarkable! It gives you access to an extraorindary range of facts about anything in the world.

5. Geothentic: Geospatial technologies plus Authentic Learning. Geothentic provides an online environment for teachers and students to solve complex geography circumstances. Brilliant!

6. Nautilus Live: Follow along as Dr. Robert Ballard and his team undertake an exciting expedition on the E/V Nautilus to map the sea floor and study underwater volcanoes. Be there in real time.

7. Virtual Tours of the Louvre: go for a tour through the museum (many museum sites have these functions now!)

8. Turning the Pages: turn the pages of historical documents in the British Museum

9. ARCHAVE: the ARCHAVE system is an immersive virtual reality environment for archaeological research.

and many more. Check out more by downloading Curtis’s presentation here sydneykeynote – curtis bonk.

Two items I want to end on:

1. While the technology and resources are here to make classrooms more engaging and have the students drive their own learning, few teachers take it on. This article shows some research into this (Research-dispels-common-ed-tech-myths).

2. Third world countries are becoming the source of innovation that will drive the future. Don’t believe me? India has come up with a $35 tablet computer that they hope will be used throughout their school system. (India unveils $35 tablet computer) And we complain about getting netbooks in schools and politicians are trying to end the computer in schools program!

What great websites for learning do you know of and would like me to speak about?

Welcome to 2010 and the start of a whole new year of learning and discovery!

Over the summer I have been involved in doing some research for Dr David Zyngier at the Faculty of Education at Monash University. David and I first met when I took over the ruMAD? program at the Education Foundation and I began to redesign it to be more applicable in schools. Since then David has asked me back each year, no matter what I am up to, to talk to his first year and final year pre-service teachers about inquiry learning and applying it in schools.

Out of the 2009 lecture on Connectedness I asked David if there was some work i could do for him (and that way I can build my knowledge base and continue to develop what i deliver to schools from the latest research). So for the past month I have been reviewing the research literature on after-school programs, on how community-school partnerships can support children who are culturally, linguistically and economically challenged, and how schools can support parents in supporting the learnign of their children.

I was just reading an article about what interventions schools and parents can make for their children when a particular paragraph struck me as vitally important for us all …

“During the early school years children develop perceptions of their own academic competence. Research suggests that these perceptions are established in response to children’s perceptions of their own abilities in school, and become relatively stable by third or fourth grade (Chapman et al., 2000). These self-perceptions appear to determine whether children pursue or avoid opportunities to acquire and refine the academic skills and strategies characteristics of proficient learners, expend effort and persist in the face of difficult challenges (Chapman et al., 2000; Helmke & van Aken, 1995). This suggests that if an early childhood intervention succeeds at boosting children’s academic skills, even if only in the short-term, it may lead children to have more positive perceptions of their own abilities. If instilling positive academic self-concepts increases the likelihood that students seek out learning opportunities and remain engaged in school, then it may result in long-term benefits to human capital.”
Duncan, G. and K. Magnuson (2004). “Individual and parent-based intervention strategies for promoting human capital and positive behavior.” Human development across lives and generations: The potential for change: 209-235.

What this paragraph implies is that we have a critical focus in primary schools and parenting … ensuring that our children’s perception of themselves, their ability to learn, and “who they are for themselves”  are empowered ones.

I have been especially noticing the perceptions of my children to themselves over the past year. Ty is 9 years old and going into Grade 4 this year and Chiara is 6 years old and going into Grade 1. I have been picking up the underlying perceptions in what my children say and their actions, and I have taken on to have them think about who they are and what they say as they tackle tasks and communicate with each other.

For example, one of the first words that come out of my children’s mouths when they are attempting something new (or they fail in doing something a number of times) is that it is “hard”. When something is “hard” it creates a perception of being immovable, impossible, overwhelming difficult. In fact one definition of “hard” is that it is “resistant to pressure, not readily penetrated“. But … if you are doing something for the first time (like playing putting a basketball through a hoop, or doing a maths problem or writing a word) then … you may not be successful until you have trained your muscles and your brain in doign what is necessary to be successful. However the word “hard” creates a mental barrier. What I have created for the kids is to replace “hard” with “challenging”. A challenge can be overcome. By definition a challenge is “A test of one’s abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking“.

We have also set up, as much as we could, an environment at home where the children read, there are limitations on TV watching, that they participate in homework clubs and other out-of-school activities, and we partner them in their learning as much as we can.

What difference has this made?

Ty, who at the end of Grade 2 was rated by his school as only being midway though Grade 2 in most of his learning areas jumped a year an one half in his ratings so as he begins Grade 4 his is rated as midway through Grade 4. Chiara is rated at midway through Grade 1 after a year of prep (and being in a Reggio Emilio inspired program).

Given the above highlighted research it then is critical for schools to also educate and empower the parents of their students … especially before Grade 4.

It is for this reason I have designed a new seminar for 2010 to be delivered to parents at primary school to begin to educate them on how they can partner their children in developing a positive self-perception of learning. Check out the seminar at the website