How Growth Mindsets improve student pride

The following is a summary of a research study undertaken by Ellen Maria Cook, Tim Wildschutt & Sander Thomaes (Educational and Child Psychology, 2017, 34(3))

Those working in and managing educational settings should consider implementing teaching approaches and learning environments that are inclusive, supportive and conducive to the development of a Growth Mindset.

Carol Dweck and colleagues defines Growth Mindset as a collection of attitudes that encourages seeing failure as a starting point for a learning process, and focuses on effort over outcome. A Fixed Mindset, by contrast, refers to attitudes that encourage viewing ability as static, and failure as the point at which you should give up.

By measuring student’s conceptions of intelligence (using the Scale of Personal Conceptions of Intelligence), and asking them to keep a diary of their experience of pride, shame and competence at school, Cook, Wildschutt & Thomaes were able to discover an interesting relationship between the variables.

As they predicted, adolescents with a Growth Mindset experienced more intense feelings of pride during school days, and fewer feelings of shame. What they also found though, was that this was greatly impacted by the person’s perceived academic competence (how capable they think they are at academic tasks). Research has shown that academic competence decreases at adolescence; now we can see that this decrease can be ‘buffered’ by encouraging a Growth Mindset.

The results underscore the value of fostering Growth Mindsets in students by:

  • creating risk tolerant learning zones (emphasising the value in challenge and learning from failure)
  • providing feedback on the basis of the process of learning, not solely on outcomes
  • introducing students to dynamic theories of intelligence, not crystal theories

If you want to know more about how to develop a Growth Mindset in your students, why not get in touch and find out what training I can offer your school.

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