Growth-mindset is a popular metacognition strategy coined by Carol Dweck which stresses the importance of seeing learning as a process rather than a state of being. According to this theory, there are two main types of mindsets in regard to learning: a Fixed-Mindset and a Growth-Mindset. Dweck argues that someone who has a fixed mindset sees skills as something one either innately does or does not possess. Whereas someone with a growth-mindset sees skills as something one develops through practice. Personally, I like to describe a fixed-mindset as approaching problems with the question: “Can I solve this problem?” Conversely, a growth-mindset involves asking “How can I solve this problem?” without the limitation of assuming that you cannot. Someone with a growth-mindset looks to determine the processes by which they can succeed, rather than questioning if they can succeed. This is a mindset that not only applies to learning, but rather success in any endeavour, whether it be learning, teaching, athletics, or business.
While there are only a limited number of studies on growth-mindset, we can see that teaching factors such as Self Reported Grades, Collective Teacher Efficacy, Response to Intervention, Meta cognition Strategies, and High Teacher Estimates of Achievement, all of which naturally promote a growth-mindset often appear high in John Hattie’s comparative meta study ranking. Teachers can promote growth-mindset by explicitly teaching the concept to their students and encouraging them to view learning as a process. As part of this approach, when I hear students discussing their own learning with a fixed-mindset, I like to take the time to discuss with them (often socratically) whether or not they are using a growth mindset. Likewise, it is always important to remember that growth-mindsets not only apply to the learner but also the teacher. If the class or an individual student is not succeeding, it is important to be reflective and ask ourselves how we, as teachers, can better help the students or student. When we are struggling, it can be easy to simply assume that factors external to are own teaching are to blame; however, dismissing our students struggles does nothing to actually improve their learning.
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Written by: Nate Joseph
Last Edited: 6/14/2019