The future is hard to predict. For this reason, people can be reluctant to unleash their full potential in different fields in life, especially education. It is important that teachers and educators know how to instill growth mindset for students.
Years of hard work, toiling, and gaining new skills yield results depending on how a person’s attitude, outlook, and overall mindset works. An educator must equip learners with the knowledge they can absorb, understand, and apply to their lives.
According to Carol Dweck from Stanford University, individuals with a growth mindset are regarded as capable of experiencing growth from one stage of their life to the next.
The expert further highlights that a fixed mindset is believing that creativity, intelligence, and character cannot develop or record meaningful changes.
On the contrary, a growth mindset is based on the hope that falling short of overcoming challenges does not reflect an individual’s intelligence. Instead, it offers a platform where we can stretch and develop the abilities we already possess. You can read more about growth mindset vs fixed mindset here.
There are many positive effects of thinking that we can improve personality and intelligence instead of viewing them as immutable, engrained traits. Carol Dweck studied these consequences on adults and children for more than twenty years.
Her remarkable contribution to the subject shows that people who believe in having a fixed mindset have to keep proving themselves to others.
These people’s moral characters, personalities, and intelligence barely move a step higher from where they have always been, hence the urge to keep showing that they are doing well regardless of their state.
They want to prove that they miss nothing by subscribing to the fixed mindset school of thought, which may be entirely a false conviction. Fixed mindsets have negative impacts on the people who have them.
Carol Dweck further points out that such individuals may focus on proving a point in their education, relationships, or career lives and forget about working on the actual issues.
Each situation they face confirms their character, personality, or intelligence. Their evaluation of challenges is based on whether they will win or fail, face rejection or acceptance, and whether they will appear stupid or clever.
Their counterparts with growth mindsets are likely to be more advantaged because they picture each situation as mutable, focusing on the valuable part that can help them improve their lives.
Such people’s thinking helps them believe that they can increase their efforts and better their lives despite having essential qualities.
Despite the slight differences that may arise concerning the direction their temperaments, interests, aptitudes, and initial talents should take, all people have the chance to grow or change through experience and learning.
That line of thought is essential as it gives you a better view of your idea of success and can change your outlook on what to achieve. It also helps you understand what it means to invest your effort in something and what development looks like to you.
As an educator, your students’ thinking or mindsets affect their attitudes towards knowledge and learning new things, elaborated in the following section.
How Does A Growth Mindset Help Students Learn?
Carol Dweck and other experts in psychology researched to understand the connection between different mindsets and the drive and ability to learn.
The most outstanding finding of this study is that learners who had a fixed mindset thought that learning was not good for them if they didn’t fail in some areas.
The participants were issued with problems that needed solving from different subjects. When presented with their scores, some were praised for their scores (ability), while others were praised for working hard to get their scores (efforts).
Students praised for their ability retained their fixed mindset, while those praised for effort were more open to learning new things by taking up other more challenging problems offered to them.
The first lot rejected the new task because they were convinced that they were already good enough and would not want to appear weak in failing the new challenge.
Additionally, the students were issued with compulsory questions which were more challenging to solve than the ones handled earlier.
Both groups recorded lower performance than earlier: however, the children who had been praised for their ability became doubtful of their intelligence, thinking they were not as gifted or smart as they had believed.
They had gauged their abilities and intelligence based on their success, meaning that a small failure could make them believe they were not good enough.
On the other hand, the effort-praised students knew that their accomplishment resulted from the efforts they put into it. Failure and harder challenges prompted them to increase their efforts and determination.
When asked to share their scores in privately-written messages with their friends, 40 percent of the students praised for their ability lied about scoring higher than the actual results. This created an illusion of higher accomplishments and success, contrary to the actual occurrence.
Students with a fixed mindset feel ashamed to claim their imperfections publicly. The more talented or intelligent one feels the higher one chances to hide behind past glory and ignore current failures.
Showing this part of themselves makes them feel like they would be branded as liars because they already made people believe their abilities are part of their accomplishments.
Fixed mindsets and growth mindsets can be formed at any stage of life.
A study consisting of four-year-old participants studied their response to two types of jigsaw puzzles; hard or easy.
Those with a growth mentality started with the easy puzzle and attempted the harder one, while those with a fixed mentality solved the easy puzzle continuously.
The findings show that they were determined to maintain a status of intelligence among their peers since they already knew what was expected.
The kids with a growth mindset did not understand why their peers chose to remain at the same spot without embracing the new challenges of the harder jigsaw puzzle.
People with a fixed mindset are more attentive to positive responses about their performance and ability to handle an issue without bothering about the feedback on areas they should learn more and improve.
Such individuals may also not bother listening to the correct answers for the problems they did not score since they believe that the questions are hard to solve, placing them in the failure section.
On the contrary, individuals with a growth mindset are eager to improve their abilities, expand their knowledge, and apply new skills. They aim to become better versions of themselves, regardless of the questions they get wrong or right.
The findings in these studies and research are helpful to you as an instructor because they can help you gauge students’ mindsets in your class. This understanding will help you know the techniques to develop growth mindsets in learners with fixed mindsets.
For students, growth and fixed mindsets can be influenced by viewing effort as positive or negative.
Fixed mindset students feel that their current talents are already good enough, meaning they don’t need to try harder.
However, those with a growth mindset feel that they can learn more and improve their abilities for better achievements despite their current knowledge and talents.
The two groups are separated by the need for approval and learning passion. While students with a growth mindset constantly gather new knowledge, those with fixed mindsets seek validation in equal measures.
Students who have a growth mindset do not fear failure; rather, they gauge their success in the new skills they acquire along the way.
With that in mind, the following are ways you can instill a growth mindset in your students.
25 Ways To Instill A Growth Mindset in Students
1. Emphasize the Disadvantages of a Fixed Mindset
You can adopt different techniques such as drawings, cartoons, or case studies to teach your students about the negative results of having a fixed mindset.
This kind of exaggeration is likely to show them how absurd and irrational it is for one to incline to that line of thought. They start embracing the other option, drawing them closer to adopting a growth mindset.
2. Ask About Tasks Pursuable Without Perseverance
Initiate a class exercise that identifies tasks undertaken and accomplished without perseverance. This will challenge them to adopt a growth mindset after realizing that all jobs, experiences, and performances require them to put in some effort.
3. Embrace Mistakes
Remind the students that mistakes are part of human nature and are not a sign of weakness or failure. Let them understand that learning requires perfection, with the effort and determination needed to make corrections.
Hold sessions where students can recount their mistakes and failures. Compare them to their successes and the efforts channeled to what they have already accomplished. Encourage them to embrace both aspects because they are complementary and co-existent.
4. Master the Growth- Mindset Approach
After identifying a student’s situation, study it together and determine its cause and impacts.
Outline the potential outcomes when approaching the issue with a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
Select the type of mindset that brings the best results and encourage the student to adopt the growth mindset. They should apply this in a classroom setting and real-life situations.
5. Make the Challenge Enjoyable
When students find a challenging situation enjoyable, they will devise ways to preserve it and move to more complex levels of similar cases.
This can be seen in video games, also applicable in the real world. The more setbacks and struggles they encounter, the higher an individual’s determination to succeed.
Relate the students’ struggles in different subjects or topics to scenarios where gaming players and athletes have to pursue a new level. When faced with difficult problems, players and athletes rarely manifest defeat; so should the students.
6. Use a ‘Growth Mindset’ Language
In most cases, the language adopted in class or other fields in life play a huge role in shaping the students’ mindsets.
Affirmatory language is essential to help the learners remain more positive and determined. For instance, you can replace the term “failure” with “learning experience.”
Encourage them to use the word “yet” because it depicts hope and the belief that eventually, they will master the tricks and accomplish their goals.
7. Embrace and Acknowledge Weaknesses
Everyone has unique strengths and weaknesses. Instead of hiding one’s weak points, it is more advisable to look deeper into them and understand how to change them or learn to live with them.
Overcoming weaknesses is a process that requires patience. Help the students acknowledge that they have weak points which need help, and they should not be ashamed to ask for it.
8. Study and Understand the Brain Elasticity Concept
The brain is elastic and expandable. Teaching students to understand this concept, reminding them to keep their minds open to new possibilities and keep up with the expansion in their brains.
9. Avoid Seeking Approval
Tell the students to stop looking for feedback that suits their expectations all the time. Seeking approval diverts their attention from improving their efforts to grow. They prioritize people’s opinions and feedback concerning their performance, limiting their growth potential.
10. Focus More on the process Than the Result
Students who are more focused on the final result tend to overlook the process of achieving these results. Encourage your students to embrace the learning part and pay more attention to the approaches and techniques to accomplish the objectives.
11. Identify Your Sense of Purpose
A growth mindset can be achieved when the students understand the purpose of whatever they engage in. it creates a vivid image and a bigger picture, pushing them to focus on the efforts required to achieve success.
12. Embrace Group Efforts
Having exchange sessions where individuals can share their growth and success stories is a good idea to instill a growth mindset.
It encourages those trying to make progress and helps others with a fixed mindset to view differently. The group can work together and create a growth culture, celebrating each other’s efforts and milestones.
13. Growth Takes Time
Speed can interfere with quality. Learning things quickly does not mean that one is learning well. Some concepts require time to understand, while others are based on trial and error while making mistakes in the process. A student needs time to rectify these mistakes and grow.
14. Effort-based vs. Ability-based Rewards
It is more beneficial to reward effort and actions than meriting abilities. It encourages students to invest in activities instead of only relying on traits.
15. Redefine the Term ‘Genius’
Normalize using terms like “genius” in scenarios where effort or hard work are applied and not only use the word to refer to talent or intelligence that was already there.
16. Encourage Positive Criticism
Remind your students that they can use constructive feedback and criticism to turn the situation around and improve it. Help them view these remarks as something from which they can learn.
17. Separate Improvement and Failure
Students should know that being told to improve does not mean failing. Instead, they should take that opportunity to better their techniques and approach the situation differently.
18. Engage in Regular Reflections
Reflections help one look closer into their life, depicting failures and achievements concurrently. Reflecting on the lessons learned daily can help them plan better for the following day since they know what they should do differently.
19. Encourage Effort Before Talent
Reward or praise students based on their efforts instead of solely focusing on talent, skill, and academic performance.
20. Encourage ‘Brain Training’
Encourage the students to continue learning because the brain is a muscle that requires constant training. Relaxing can cause dormancy, limiting one’s progress in life.
21. Cultivate Grit
Internal motivation helps the students remain confident of what they can achieve. This knowledge reminds them they don’t have to seek validation or approval from other parties.
22. Create New Goals after Accomplishing Old Ones
Highlight the importance of creating achievable goals at every level. However, if a student fails to achieve what they had planned, remind them to try again with a different approach or more effort. Goals stimulate people and encourage them to maintain a growth mindset.
23. Take Risks
You’ll never learn new things or move to the next step if you don’t take risks. Not taking risks may sometimes work to one’s advantage but may also backfire.
However, if one remains conservative and refuses to give it a try, they will never know what would have happened if they did.
24. Connect Time and Effort Realistically
Learning is a combination of time and effort. Impatient people tend to maintain a fixed mindset because they want instant results.
This means that if things don’t work out sooner, they will give up and result in their static beliefs. Remind your students to have realistic expectations regarding effort and time.
25. Own Your Attitude
Finally, when it comes to developing and maintaining a growth mindset, a student’s attitude is everything.
Encourage them to take ownership and remain in control of their beliefs and mentality without conforming to external forces.
They are the only ones who can determine their mindsets.
Individuals’ mindsets separate their learning and understanding of the concepts taught in class.
However, teachers and educators play significant roles in ensuring that students leave the class with a more positive outlook than they had when they came in: this can be achieved by instilling a growth mindset.
With the techniques outlined in this article, you won’t go wrong with helping your students own their attitudes and remain patient to make the best of every learning challenge.
Make sure to check out our 26 Growth Mindset Bulletin Board Ideas that you can use for your classroom.
You can also read my guide on How To Teach Growth Mindset To Kids (The 4-Week Guide)
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