Power of a Growth Mindset

The recent meta-anaylsis at Case Western Reserve University which analyzed over 300 mindset studies in an effort to determine whether having a growth mindset produced measurable results showed that the growth mindset alone had no significant impact. In their research they implemented what they call interventions. Passive (students read a document or watch a video on how human attributes are malleable), feedback (students are given feed-back on their performance in terms of growth mind-set), and interactive (e.g., participants read materials and then write an essay about how intelligence can be developed or participate in an in-class discussion)

Just talking about growth mindset isnt enough. Carol dweck says “A lot of teachers are saying ‘yes I have a growth mindset’, without doing the work and without making a journey to deeply understand it and to know how to apply it. Even some teachers who genuinely have a growth mindset aren’t understanding how to apply it properly. They are just telling kids to try hard: which I call nagging, not growth mindset. Or they are just saying ‘hey kids, have a growth mindset”… It is akin to putting up “try harder” posters in the same old remember and regurgitate classroom. The key is to change to a significant learning environment and encourage choice, ownership and voice.

I agree with Dweck’s concern about educators and learners needing to do the work required to develop a growth mindset. It is a deeply reflective process requiring that this process occur often and over time. Our current short term school structures allow little time for evaluation and assessment and iteration, before we move-on in the system. We are so focused on testing and measures that tend to solidify fixed ideas on performance and ability.

The diagram by Gerstien below incorporates the practice of self assessment to engage the growth mindset. Personal accountability can lead to greater learning and increases the ownership and voice in the chosen task.

Learners need to become familiar with the term “Yet”. Everyone has a different set of abilities and acquires abilities at a different rate than others. Learners need be presented with the concept of yet and to see models and examples of the effort it takes to acquire new knowledge and abilities. Dweck points out that effort is the second rule of a growth mindset. Pro athletes know that they need to have a growth mindset and persistence to achieve new skills. Persistence can also be called “Grit”, but grit can be misused in the wrong environment. If drill and practice and constant testing for desired results becomes exhausting, monotonous and tightly structured, persistence can be unrewarding.

By giving learners choice in their subjects, they focus more on their interests and take ownership of their learning which can change the learner’s attitude toward cheating. Self examination and discussion can increase the level to which they accept feedback.

By taking ownership of their learning and continually questioning what they don’t know or understand, the learners’s preoccupation with grades transitions to more interest in inquiry.

Return to the Creating Significant Learning Environments Page of this section.


Anderson, M. (May 26, 2017). 1 day backflip progression /tutorial | trampoline. [Video].YouTube https://youtu.be/5TzS5tY3H00

Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.

Gerstein, J. (2018) Is “Have a Growth Mindset” the New “Just Say No”. Retrieved from https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2015/09/04/is-have-a-growth-mindset-the-new-just-say-no/

Harapnuik, D. (2021) Learner’s mindset explained. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?p=8705

RSA Animate, (December 15, 2015). To Help Every Child Fulfil Their Potential [Video].YouTube https://youtu.be/Yl9TVbAal5s

Sisk. V, Burgoyne. A, Sun. J, Jennifer L. , Butler. J, Macnamara. B (2018) To what extent and under which circumstances are growth mind-sets important to academic achievement? two meta-analyses, Psychological Science 2018, Vol. 29(4) 549–571©

Image Retrieved from https://s-i.huffpost.com/gen/3029792/images/n-EMPTY-CLASSROOM-628×314.jpg

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