As educators, we are always looking for ways to help our students develop their learning capability. At a foundational level, establishing the right mindset in students will help them achieve more in our classes and beyond. So, after researching about learning mindset, I have found that developing the growth mindset in students have the most benefits.
So how does growth mindset help students? Students with a growth mindset understand that their ability is not fixed, and they can improve with effort. Therefore, they will be willing to spend more effort and time on a task or assignment leading to better achievement.
Trying to develop a growth mindset in my students, I have realized that I must be more aware of the impact of my teaching approach on the students’ perception of effort. Changing the way I taught have helped to nurture students in the direction of a growth mindset. Before we can successfully develop our students’ growth mindset, we will need to understand the basic of mindset development.
How Mindsets are developed
Mindsets are developed during an early age and continue to change as we get older. The main factors contributing to the development of mindsets come from the praises we get and the labels we are given or associated to. For example, a child who is labelled as quiet might developed the mindset that he or she is unable to speak well.
These praising and labelling of children increases with frequency as they enter the schooling system. In school, they are constantly ranked and judged by their test scores. Further, as students, the labels given by their peers and teachers will contribute greatly to their mindset.
Unknowingly, the general direction of test scores and quick labels given to students contribute heavily to the development of a fixed mindset (see Related Questions) rather than a growth mindset. These contributing factors to the students’ mindset are a common daily occurrence, business as usual, that we, as educators, become unperceptive of their impact.
Changing Students’ Mindset
The good news is that students’ mindset can be changed, but it will not be easy. This requires a shift in their perspective, the way they view themselves and their lives.
As educators, we can facilitate the development of our students’ growth mindset by being more aware of our words and actions. By using words and actions to demonstrate and encourage students to put in more effort into their learning, we can nudge them closer to a growth mindset.
Further, we can explain the distinction between a growth and fixed mindset to our students. This will help them gain an awareness of their own mindset, and how it impacts their learning.
The effort to change students’ mindset will not be immediate. It will require daily reinforcement of a growth mindset perspective by you. Next, we will look at ways you can reinforce a growth mindset in your classroom.
Implementing Growth Mindset in the Classroom
The way you praise your students
Remember to not praise your students for being smart, as this will encourage a fixed mindset. Further, emphasize less on test scores and assignment outcomes. Instead, you can praise your students for improvement and hard work.
The focus of your praise on effort helps students cultivate a growth mindset. This will encourage them to put in more effort as they work on your assignment. Naturally, as their assignment outcomes improved, they will get more motivated to expand greater effort in their learning. Eventually becoming a self-fulfilling cycle of effort-improvement-motivation to keep growing their ability.
Stretch your students’ ability
Developing a growth mindset in the classroom is also about stretching your students’ ability. By stretching their ability, you ensure that your students are never complacent, and they will be putting constant effort in their learning.
There are two ways you can stretch your students’ ability. You can set high standards and/or assign a slightly difficult task each time. By setting high standards, your students might work hard and deliver beyond their expectation. Thus, altering their self-perception of their ability. Assigning of a slightly difficult task each time is a progressive approach to build on your students’ previous accomplishments, which facilitate their growth without them being overwhelmed by the most difficult task at the end.
Importantly, you must remember to not overstretch your students. Overstretched students might feel that they are inadequate and give up trying altogether. There will be a fine balance that you will have to gauge when stretching your students’ ability.
Learning to give and receive feedback is part of having a growth mindset. The act of giving and receiving feedback is a process of learning to improve. Fostering an exchange of feedbacks between your students can create an ecosystem for the nurturing of their growth mindset.
You can encourage feedback between students by making your lesson around peer learning activities. This can be an activity that requires students to solve a problem in groups. During the lesson, you should approach group of students who are not actively participating in the activity discussion and encourage them to do so. You can prompt their involvement by using leading questions (suggested questions below).
Take note that you should also provide students with actionable feedbacks to encourage their effort to improve. To help you with starting useful feedback session with your students, a list of suggested questions is provided below to direct the discussion towards developing their growth mindset.
Questions that encourage a growth mindset
- What are the steps to reach the answer?
- What have you learned today?
- What have your mistakes taught you?
- Have you to try hard enough?
- How can you change your learning strategy to improve?
What is a fixed mindset? A fixed mindset is the belief that a person’s ability is fixed by natural limits, such as genetics. This belief usually leads a person into relinquishing any further effort to improve on their ability, as it is seen that no growth will happen beyond current achievements.
Difference between fixed and growth mindset? Fixed mindset does not spur a person to grow their ability, whereas a growth mindset encourages a person to put in more effort to improve their ability. Having a growth mindset will help a person to achieve more in life by putting more effort into the things endeavoured.
How long does it take to develop a growth mindset? There are no fixed amounts of time to develop a growth mindset in a student. Developing a growth mindset will vary based on the student pre-existing perspective and beliefs. Some students can quickly appreciate the idea of a growth mindset, which allows them to change their perspective into a growth mindset in a short time.