How to Foster a Growth Mindset

Amy Jessica McMillan

Schwartz, K. What’s your learning disposition? How to foster students’ mindsets. (2014). MindShift. Retrieved from utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+kqed%2FnHAK+%28MindShift%29

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck has developed a compelling theory for how students learn. According to Dweck, students who have what she terms a “growth mindset” outperform those who don’t. This article, published in Mindshift, adds to Dweck’s theory by outlining a few other motivational mindsets. According to blog author Karen Scwartz, some important mindsets for students include feeling like they belong to an academic community, the belief that the work is valuable and that they can be successful, and the belief that their intelligence can grow with effort. Finally, Schwartz gives examples of several schools who focus on developing these mindsets with students.

This article gives several practical tips for encouraging students to stay motivated to learn. Most educators have worked with kids who have simply given up because they’ve decided they can’t succeed. Schwartz proposes some tools for reinvigorating those students and for keeping the rest as motivated as possible. I wonder why Schwartz differentiates the mindsets listed in her article from the ones Carol Dweck proposes in her research and in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In another Mindshift article titled “Beyond Talent and Smarts,” blogger Annie Murphy Paul (2012) explains Dweck’s research “has shown that children and adults who believe in the power of effort to overcome challenges [what she calls growth mindset] are more resilient and ultimately more successful than those who are convinced that ability is innate.” Regardless, Schwartz’s ideas about improving student learning outcomes are certainly thoughtful and intuitively compelling. She reminds us that our abilities and intelligences can grow based on the effort we put into our work. We teachers need to have that in the forefront of our minds every time we step in front of our students.