How to Develop a Growth Mindset In Schools

Everything you need to know about how to develop a growth mindset in schools

You have heard about growth mindset and know many teachers who are keen to develop it.

But how do you develop a growth mindset in schools?

Growth mindset refers to a learning theory developed by Dr Carol Dweck. It revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability and performance. The opposite, a fixed mindset, refers to the belief that a person’s talents are set in stone . Years of research have shown that mindset is malleable. This means that by helping students to develop a growth mindset, we can help them to learning more effective and efficient.

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Advantages of a Growth Mindset

There is a lot of peer-reviewed research on the pros of encouraging a growth mindset in students. These include:

Growth mindset coaching has been shown to be most beneficial for disengaged students

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How to Develop a Growth Mindset

There is no set way on to develop a growth mindset in students. Areas that may act as a good starting point include:

  • Types of Praise – praising the process, their effort and individual development over the result, Encouraging your students to ask for and act on feedback. Encouraging a sense of curiosity

  • Level of Expectation – having high, challenging but realistic expectations of their performance and communicating this to your students. This can also help to fight against Imposter Syndrome.

  • Positive Group Norms – creating a growth culture that values learning, education and development

  • Helpful Self-Talk – Teaching students to manage how they talk to themselves and to do so in a positive, helpful and energised way.

A recent survey found that 98% of teachers believed that if their students had a growth mindset it would lead to improved student learning.

However only 20% of them believed they were good at fostering a growth mindset and 85% wanted more training and practical strategies.

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Is it easy to develop a growth mindset?

There is a lot of research that suggests a growth mindset can be developed. This is done by helping students realise the brain isn’t a fixed entity. Praising certain behaviours and the type of feedback you give can help. However, that is not to say it is easy. Far from it. Developing a growth mindset can take a lot of time and effort. It is not linear, and there may be setbacks along the way. However, managed correctly, having a growth mindset can make a big effect on the lives of young people.

How important are parents in helping develop a growth mindset?

Very. One study showed that the type of praise parents gave to their children when they were 1-3 years old predicted if that child would have a growth mindset up to 5 years later. Likewise, another study found that how parents react to failure (do they view it as a chance to learn or as a negative judgement on their abilities) also impacted on the growth mindset of their children.

What is your best advice on how to develop a growth mindset in students?

The more you can create a culture of growth and development the better. This means growth mindset isn’t something you do, it’s just part of your daily practice. This subtle and stealthy approach is one advocated by some of the leading growth mindset researchers.

Does developing a growth mindset in students help improve grades?

Growth mindset is a psychological theory about how people learn best. One would hope that this learning would result in higher grades. Indeed a large scale study conducted by Carol Dweck (of over 160,000 students) found that growth mindset predicts grades across every socio-economic level. Another study of 1500 students found that combining a growth mindset and a sense of purpose intervention improved the likelihood of students completing Maths, English and Science courses. Finally, this study of 115 students found that students with a growth mindset went on to achieve higher grades.

The Sutton commissioned a study that found that students who received a growth mindset intervention made, on average, two months additional progress in English and Maths. However a recent study failed to reproduce these results which suggests that more research is needed.

Can you recommend more stuff for me to read about how to develop a growth mindset?

Here are a few good places to start:

Do you want to help your students develop a growth mindset?

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