Developing Growth Mindset in Students

Aug 02, 2018

Believe you can, and you’re half way there – Theodore Roosevelt

Intelligence is a grossly misunderstood trait. While some believe you’re stuck with the intelligence you were born with, others have learned that intelligence, just as any other trait, is not rigid, and can be improved.

Growth Mindset is the idea, that with awareness, efforts, and strategies, it is indeed possible to change one’s intelligence and talent. This mindset empowers students to work towards progress, without accepting unsatisfying results as an outcome of their intelligence and talent, and what they deserve. Students with Growth Mindset do not resign themselves to what is, but instead, look for ways to develop their brains, to attain what may.

Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

Students who believe that their intelligence and talents are what they are naturally born with, and will remain the same, harbour fixed mindset. As the name suggests, students with fixed mindset have a limited, unchanging perspective of the brain, intelligence, abilities and traits, viewing it as something you are born with, without any scope for change. Growth Mindset students on the other hand, have broader perspectives with regards to the afore mentioned. Students with fixed mindset view challenges as dangers, and thus limit to comfort zones, as they do not see any learning from getting out of it. The ones with Growth Mindset however, look forward to challenges, viewing them as stepping stones for progress. Owing to their attitude and approach towards change and challenges, Growth Mindset students have better exposure, and are more open to change.

When students know that they can develop their abilities, that effort and dedication make a difference in their approach for success, they won’t be intimidated by challenges. The Growth Mindset creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for achieving goals. The simple belief that intelligence is malleable can better equip children for challenging tasks and difficult subject matter.

However, most students do not have 100% Fixed Mindset or 100 % Growth Mindset. Often times, students have a combination of both.

Ways to Develop Growth Mindset in Students

Students who hold Growth Mindset believe that intelligence can be developed and brain is like a muscle that can be trained. A Growth Mindset can be developed, through different approaches. Here are a few:

  • Familiarize students with the concept of Growth Mindset - Teach students about the two different kinds of mindsets. Speak to them about Growth Mindset, and how intelligence is not rigid. They will be open to the possibility of change, only when they are familiarized with the concept. Discuss their views on intelligence and abilities in class, to help them get a deeper perspective on the same.
  • Mind your words - Teachers must pay attention to the words they use, while helping students deal with challenges, or while complimenting them. For example, words such as “you tried your best”, “keep trying”, “You are so intelligent” focuses on their current abilities, and does not view learning as a process, but an end result. Add more depth to your statements, by bringing in the efforts they put in for the work, the plans they devised and the strategies they used, to focus more on learning as a journey, rather than the end result of definite traits.
  • Take the creative approach - Students are bound to remember and accept learning that make a way to their subconscious silently. Place motivational quotes and reminders, or bulletin boards in the class. Suggest books, videos and stories that deliver the message without overwhelming their minds or alarming their resistance.
  • Take suggestions and feedback - By taking suggestions and feedback as teachers, you model the idea of being open to change and progress. Admitting your flaws, making conscious efforts to correct them, taking inputs from students, involving them in decision making, gives out the message that flaws and progress, are not limited to fixed set of people, and that progress and success, are both attainable.
  • Adopt different teaching strategies - Use varied teaching strategies, to make learning captivating. Use content, multimedia, real life scenarios, case studies, discussions, debates, field trips, to help students use varied skills. Unless put in practice, they will not be able to see the results that different strategies, plans, and approaches bring to the table.
  • Encourage elaboration - Encourage students to elaborate answers, whether in examinations or in class, instead of copy pasting content word to word. Elaborating answers throws light on the understanding a student holds of the concept, helps them bring in their own perspectives, and also use critical thinking, all of which push towards growth mentality.
  • Make students list down goals - In the beginning of a specific time period, collaborate with students to list down their individual learning goals and targets. This will help them work towards progress, and look for all alternatives and strategies that will lead them to it. Laying Down “SMART” goals will make them look forward to growth, instead of resisting it.
  • Track and communicate progress made - Track students’ progress from time to time, and communicate the progress they made. Being able to view their efforts in measurable outcomes familiarizes students with the idea of growth and change. “If it can be done once, it can be done again and better” attitude replaces “I can only do so much” attitude.
To Conclude

Growth Mindset does not just encourage more interest and involvement in learning, but also paves way for future success, by changing conditioned or preset thoughts and ideas that “one can only achieve within the confines of their preset capacity and skills”. Students open to, and prepared for growth, won’t just excel academically, but groom their minds to perform better with different approaches and strategies.

- Jiji Tharayil