Visit the Learning to Learn Home Page to learn about all of the strategies in the series.

What is growth mindset?

How does a growth mindset help?

Some people see intelligence as inherent (fixed mindset) while others see it as a quality that can be developed (growth mindset). These different perspectives lead to different behaviors and results. Students with a growth mindset believe that one's intelligence can be developed with practice and that failure is part of learning. Neuroscientists have determined that the brain grows like any other muscle in the body. People with a fixed mindset view times when they struggle and have difficulties as a poor reflection on themselves, while people with a growth mindset see those times as an opportunity to grow and get better. People with a growth mindset are more receptive to constructive feedback and recognize that it is not them personally, but the result of their work, that is being assessed. Students with a growth mindset embrace problems as an opportunity to learn while students who assume that their intelligence is set, are more likely to seek to demonstrate their “smartness” and less likely to ask questions in order to overcome setbacks in their learning.

What are some strategies to help students develop a growth mindset?

How students react when they are faced with challenges in their learning, is determined by their mindset. Students can be taught to develop a growth mindset. Instructors should praise effort, strategy and process rather than focusing on talent and intelligence to promote a growth mindset. Growth mindset does not mean that every student has equal ability or potential. Instead, it means that every student has the opportunity to improve and to develop their knowledge, skills and abilities with effort and good strategies. Students should view failure as an opportunity to learn and improve their knowledge and should be encouraged to persist despite obstacles. Carol Dweck, Stanford University, states that focusing on “yet” (i.e. “that is something I don’t understand yet”) creates a growth mindset environment which helps students to change their perspectives and be more receptive to learning.

How do we inspire students to have a growth mindset?

Strategy Toolkit for Instructors

Below are useful resources that can be used during class to encourage students to incorporate Learning to Learn strategies in their studies. The Toolkit includes links to more information about a specific strategy as well as the Learning to Learn Blog which provides an opportunity to engage in lively discussion with colleagues about creative ways to promote effective learning strategies for your students.