Psychology of Education

Image by SuperGenerations.ie https://supergeneration.examcraftgroup.ie/the-growth-mindset/ An excellent example of the differences between a growth and fixed mindset. It highlights the benefits that are teacher and student can experience by having that growth mindset. Carol Dweck has done some great research of the mindset and its role in society, education and the workplace.

Introduction

When describing a growth mindset Carol Dweck (2017, ch.1) referred to it as ‘based on belief that your basic qualities are things can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies and help from others’. A growth mindset is where someone believes their intelligence and ability can be altered or improved based on practice and work rate and ability. Schroder et al (2017, pg.23) supports this by stating that the ‘growth mindset belief is that aspects such as your intelligence and personality are adaptable and changeable, while a fixed mindset  is of the belief that these are rigid and set’. Many educators are seeing the benefits of implementing in their teaching style.

Support

Carol Dweck’s take on growth mindset was seen as a excellent way of distinguishing different type of people. A person with a growth mindset will always try regardless of failure, while a fixed mindset will retreat at the thought of failure or a challenge they see outside their ability. An interesting way of describing someone who has a growth mindset is ‘they do not just seek challenges, they thrive on it, and the bigger the challenge the better’ (Dweck, 2017, ch.2). This idea of embracing the thought of failure is further supported by Hildrew (2018, ch.2) who explains that someone with a growth mindset ‘may fail once, and have no issues, may fail again and see themselves getting closer to the task, and so on until they reach their goal’.

Growth Mindset in a classroom

There is evidence that a growth mindset is something that is important to have in a classroom, both for a teacher and the students. Dweck (2009) cited by Boylon, Barblett and Kraus (2018) explained ‘how teachers who are enabling a growth mindset in their class can lead to modern day learning skills in the students’. Teachers want children to be able to attempt a task and not be afraid of failure, but to embrace the challenge. This classroom mindset is also very transferrable into many other aspects of a child’s life. To support this theory Nikki Willis (2019, pg.1) highlights how a ‘growth mindset provides a child with skills for life and also assists in them becoming lifelong learners’.

Teachers are activity aspiring to assist students in cultivating a growth mindset.

Critique

There are a few areas of the growth mindset that could be improved. While it is great for children that already have a growth mindset, it can be difficult for a teacher and student if they have a fixed mindset as teachers can struggle to aid the child in progressing their mindset. Dweck (2017) cited by Boylan, Barblett and Knaus, (2018, pg.22)  did accept that it can be difficult to implement in a classroom as teachers often do not understand the mindset theory and thus find it hard to incorporate it in their work in the class.

Education Week Research Centre(2016) cited by Boylan, Barblett and Knaus, (2018, pg.18 )  found that teachers had difficulty with the growth mindset. While many agreed with the positives associated with the growth mindset in a classroom, only 20% of the educators surveyed felt that were assisting with developing the mindset in their students. Along with this 85% believed that more professional development was need.

While the growth mindset is an excellent way of fostering development, there are areas that could be improved on, particularly for teachers.

Benefits in School

The growth mindset in a school environment has been proven by research to have a positive influence on students and teachers alike. When referencing modern day teaching Bialik et al (2015) cited by Boylan, Barblett and Knaus, (2018, pg.17)  explain how learners are making efforts to mould their own growth and as a result are improving elements such as resilience, mindfulness, courage, and leadership. These are all areas that we as people and educators, encourage on a daily basis, that students are open minded, responsible for their own learning and willing to fail and take risks. All the traits associated with the growth mindset.

A study by Dweck(2017) with 5th graders produced interesting results regarding the mindset in the classroom. When provided a puzzle, all the children were pleased. When made more difficult the enjoyment of those with a fixed mindset reduced dramatically, in comparison to the growth mindset students who recognised the challenge but were eager to rise to it. A result of this study showed students with a growth mindset wanted to take the puzzle home to work on it and complete it, whereas the fixed mindset student had no interest in doing so as they associated it with being too difficult for them.

I found this study to be an excellent example of the type of benefit the growth mindset can bring about in class. Children embracing the challenge, embracing the possibility of failure, enthused at the idea of reaching a task that was originally out of their reach.

Conclusion

The evidence is certainly there to support the use of a growth mindset as an educator. As a teacher, it is vital to have a growth mindset to enable children with fixed mindset to change over time. To be there to offer support and guidance to the individual, to aid in overcoming fear in failure., and embrace development. Bialik & Fadel, (2015) cited by Boylan, Barblett and Knaus, 2018, pg.18) explained how vital it is for a teacher to have the right mindset. They described how it is the responsibility of a teacher to aid a student to develop the mindset ‘whereby they thrive on challenges, work towards goals and begin to recognise the power of effort and resilience’.

As an educator a weakness with it is not the theory but the application. “How do I apply it in my lesson plan, my classroom environment, to each child, who all have individual mindsets themselves?”. This is not a weakness but as the growth mindset would indicate, a challenge that should be embraced and can be tackled through time, effort, and resilience.

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References

  • Boylan, F,. Barblett, L., Knaus.,M (2018) ‘Early Childhood teacher’s perspective:   Developing agency in children’.  Australasian Journal of Early Childhood. Volume 43 Number 3, 2018. (Online). Available at : https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.23965/AJEC.43.3.02 (Accessed: 4June 2020).
  • Dweck, C. (2017) Mindset-Updated Edition: Changing The Way You think To Fulfill Your Potential.  ‘The Mindset’ in Dweck, C.(ed). Constable & Robinson Ltd.
  • Hildrew, C (2018) Becoming a Growth Mindset School: The Power of Mindset to Transform Teaching, Leadership and Learning. Routledge. Abington, Oxon, New York.
  • Willis, N(2019) Growth Mindset: A Practical Guide For Primary Schools. Bloomsbury Education. London

Growth Mindset and Failure | sylviaduckworth | Flickr
Image by Sylvia Duckworth https://www.flickr.com/photos/sylviaduckworth/18525580481/in/photostream/. This image effectively displays the learning process, we fail, we learn and reflect from our failure, try again and succeed. It is through failure and the reflection that we learn what we did right and what we could different to achieve the results we want.