Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Growth" vs "Fixed" Mindsets

Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Standford, feels there is a disparity in motivation pertaining to how students perceive their own intellectual abilities. Some students believe their intelligence is fixed and they cannot change it. Dweck believes these children are more concerned with looking smart than actually learning. On the other hand, there are students who believe their intelligence can grow if used and nourished.

Students were sent to a workshop where they were taught study skills. However, half of the students were placed in a group where they also received seminars in how to develop a brain growth mindset. The difference in academic success between the two groups was startling. The group with a growth mindset significantly outperformed the control group. Dweck has also applied her concept to racecar drivers and businesspeople.

This certainly affects me as a teacher, particularly a psychology teacher. This would be a very good topic to cover in my class and could possibly also improve the results of my students as well. A lot of students do not have proper motivation to want to learn and achieve. If they see that their intelligence is not immutable, it can open up the natural curiosity that they have. I have always felt that an understanding of psychology and how the brain works is an important thing for people to be educated about.

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