By Udeet Datta
The Theory: Growth Mindset
The term “Growth Mindset” is a term that was coined by psychologist Carol Dweck. Dweck’s research was investigating the impact our beliefs about ourselves can have on our ability to learn. She discovered that people with this “Growth Mindset” believe that their own internal abilities can be influenced through hard work and effort. In contrast are people with the “Fixed Mindset” which argues that character, intelligence, and creative ability are fixed and cannot be changed.
Those with a growth mindset have been shown to be more successful in the long run, as they tend to see failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. People with a fixed mindset however address failure as something that is outside control and hence give up immediately.
The Verdict: True
What does the research say?
- Studies1 have shown2 that a growth mindset is likely to positively impact outcomes in educational settings.3 However, the original paper on this has been swept by the reproducibility crisis. Scientists have heavily debated the methodologies within the original papers4, arguing that the effect sizes originally cited were too large to be considered even plausible.5 Dweck and her co-partners, to their credit, have acknowledged and corrected the errors. They have been extremely open about refining the research.6
- A statement published by Dweck in 2015 acknowledges that the reality behind mindset research is much more nuanced than the notion that has caught the public consciousness by storm.7 “Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating the growth mindset with effort. Certainly, effort is key for students’ achievement, but it’s not the only thing,” Dweck states, “Students need to try new strategies and seek input from others when they’re stuck. They need this repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve. We also need to remember that effort is a means to an end to the goal of learning and improving. Too often nowadays, praise is given to students who are putting forth effort, but not learning, in order to make them feel good in the moment: “Great effort! You tried your best!” It’s good that the students tried, but it’s not good that they’re not learning.”
- Key findings in more recent studies demonstrate that a growth mindset is much more difficult to adopt than one would assume. As learning and development professionals we need to be aware that a growth mindset is about more than just proper framing. It also needs to incorporate adjustment and execution after feedback is received during a learning process. From a more holistic point a view, the growth mindset is a shift in perspective in the area of learning.