- FixedvsGrowth.pdf (384.466 KB)
Read the short (seriously, it took me like 20 mins tops) article and do a write up (150 words minimum) on it.
Ideas for write up portion:
What kind of learner identity are you? Why do do you identify as that kind of learner? What is your relationship with struggling in school? How do you deal with struggle? When do you see things as a learning oportunity?
Points: 20 (which is a lot in this class)
(Do not forget I am international student, please)
You can see these information on wibsite and I will put on this page because you have to read this a story.
Transforming Students’ Motivation to Learn
Carol S. Dweck
This is an exciting time for our brains. More and more research is showing that our brains change
constantly with learning and experience and that this takes place throughout our lives.
Does this have implications for students’ motivation and learning? It certainly does. In my
research in collaboration with my graduate students, we have shown that what students believe about
their brains — whether they see their intelligence as something that’s fixed or
Photoillustration: Michael Northrup
something that can grow and change — has profound effects on their motivation, learning, and school
achievement (Dweck, 2006). These different beliefs, or mindsets, create different psychological
worlds: one in which students are afraid of challenges and devastated by setbacks, and one in which
students relish challenges and are resilient in the face of setbacks.
How do these mindsets work? How are the mindsets communicated to students? And, most important, can
they be changed? As we answer these questions, you will understand why so many students do not
achieve to their potential, why so many bright students stop working when school becomes
challenging, and why stereotypes have such profound effects on students’ achievement. You will also
learn how praise can have a negative effect on students’ mindsets, harming their motivation to
Mindsets and Achievement
Many students believe that intelligence is fixed, that each person has a certain amount and that’s
that. We call this a fixed mindset, and, as you will see, students with this mindset worry about
how much of this fixed intelligence they possess. A fixed mindset makes challenges threatening for
students (because they believe that their fixed ability may not be up to the task) and it makes
mistakes and failures demoralizing (because they believe that such setbacks reflect badly on their
level of fixed intelligence).
It is the belief that intelligence can be developed that opens students to a love of learning, a
belief in the power of effort and constructive, determined reactions to setbacks.
Other students believe that intelligence is something that can be cultivated through effort and
education. They don’t necessarily believe that everyone has the same abilities or that anyone can
be as smart as Einstein, but they do believe that everyone can improve their abilities. And they
understand that even Einstein wasn’t Einstein until he put in years of focused hard work. In short,
students with this growth mindset believe that intelligence is a potential that can be realized
through learning. As a result, confronting challenges, profiting from mistakes, and persevering in
the face of setbacks become ways of getting smarter.
To understand the different worlds these mindsets create, we followed several hundred students
across a difficult school transition — the transition to seventh grade. This is when the academic
work often gets much harder, the grading gets stricter, and the school environment gets less
personalized with students moving from class to class. As the students entered seventh grade, we
measured their mindsets (along with a number of other things) and then we monitored their grades
over the next two years.
The first thing we found was that students with different mindsets cared about different things in
school. Those with a growth mindset were much more interested in learning than in just looking
smart in school. This was not the case for students with a fixed mindset. In fact, in many of our
studies with students from preschool age to college age, we find that students with a fixed mindset
care so much about how smart they will appear that they often reject learning opportunities — even
ones that are critical to their success (Cimpian, et al., 2007; Hong, et al., 1999; Nussbaum and
Dweck, 2008; Mangels, et al., 2006).
Next, we found that students with the two mindsets had radically different beliefs about effort.
Those with a growth mindset had a very straightforward (and correct) idea of effort — the idea that
the harder you work, the more your ability will grow and that even geniuses have had to work hard
for their accomplishments. In contrast, the students with the fixed mindset believed that if you
worked hard it meant that you didn’t have ability, and that things would just come naturally to you
if you did. This means that every time something is hard for them and requires effort, it’s both a
threat and a bind. If they work hard at it that means that they aren’t good at it, but if they
don’t work hard they won’t do well.
Clearly, since just about every worthwhile pursuit involves effort over a long period of time, this
is a potentially crippling belief, not only in school but also in life.
Students with different mindsets also had very different reactions to setbacks. Those with growth
mindsets reported that, after a setback in school, they would simply study more or study
differently the next time. But those with fixed mindsets were more likely to say that they would
feel dumb, study less the next time, and seriously consider cheating. If you feel dumb —
permanently dumb — in an academic area, there is no good way to bounce back and be successful in
the future. In a growth mindset, however, you can make a plan of positive action that can remedy a
deficiency. (Hong. et al., 1999; Nussbaum and Dweck, 2008; Heyman, et al., 1992) Finally, when we looked at the math grades they went on to earn, we found that the students with a
growth mindset had pulled ahead. Although both groups had started seventh grade with equivalent
achievement test scores, a growth mindset quickly propelled students ahead of their fixed-mindset
peers, and this gap only increased over the two years of the study.
In short, the belief that intelligence is fixed dampened students’ motivation to learn, made them
afraid of effort, and made them want to quit after a setback. This is why so many bright students
stop working when school becomes hard. Many bright students find grade school easy and coast to
success early on. But later on, when they are challenged, they struggle. They don’t want to make
mistakes and feel dumb
— and, most of all, they don’t want to work hard and feel dumb. So they simply retire.
It is the belief that intelligence can be developed that opens students to a love of learning, a
belief in the power of effort and constructive, determined reactions to setbacks.
How Do Students Learn These Mindsets?
In the 1990s, parents and schools decided that the most important thing for kids to have was
self-esteem. If children felt good about themselves, people believed, they would be set for life.
In some quarters, self- esteem in math seemed to become more important than knowing math, and
self-esteem in English seemed to become more important than reading and writing. But the biggest
mistake was the belief that you could simply hand children self-esteem by telling them how smart
and talented they are. Even though this is such an intuitively appealing idea, and even though it
was exceedingly well-intentioned, I believe it has had disastrous effects.
In the 1990s, we took a poll among parents and found that almost 85 percent endorsed the notion
that it was necessary to praise their children’s abilities to give them confidence and help them
achieve. Their children are now in the workforce and we are told that young workers cannot last
through the day without being propped up by praise, rewards, and recognition. Coaches are asking me
where all the coachable athletes have gone. Parents ask me why their children won’t work hard in
Could all of this come from well-meant praise? Well, we were suspicious of the praise movement at
the time. We had already seen in our research that it was the most vulnerable children who were
already obsessed with their intelligence and chronically worried about how smart they were. What if
praising intelligence made all children concerned about their intelligence? This kind of praise
might tell them that having high intelligence and talent is the most important thing and is what
makes you valuable. It might tell them that intelligence is just something you have and not
something you develop. It might deny the role of effort and dedication in achievement. In short, it
might promote a fixed mindset with all of its vulnerabilities.
The wonderful thing about research is that you can put questions like this to the test — and we did
(Kamins and Dweck, 1999; Mueller and Dweck, 1998). We gave two groups of children problems from an
IQ test, and we praised them. We praised the children in one group for their intelligence, telling
them, “Wow, that’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.” We praised the children in
another group for their effort: “Wow, that’s a really good score. You must have worked really
hard.” That’s all we did, but the results were dramatic. We did studies like this with children of
different ages and ethnicities from around the country, and the results were the same.
Here is what happened with fifth graders. The children praised for their intelligence did not want
to learn. When we offered them a challenging task that they could learn from, the majority opted
for an easier one, one on which they could avoid making mistakes. The children praised for their
effort wanted the task they could learn from.
The children praised for their intelligence lost their confidence as soon as the problems got more
difficult. Now, as a group, they thought they weren’t smart. They also lost their enjoyment, and,
as a result, their performance plummeted. On the other hand, those praised for effort maintained
their confidence, their motivation, and their performance. Actually, their performance improved
over time such that, by the end, they were performing substantially better We praised the children in one group for their intelligence, telling them, “Wow, that’s a really
good score. You must be smart at this.” We praised the children in the other group for their
effort: “Wow, that’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.” That’s all we did, but
the results were dramatic. than the intelligence-praised children on this IQ test.
Finally, the children who were praised for their intelligence lied about their scores more often
than the children who were praised for their effort. We asked children to write something
(anonymously) about their experience to a child in another school and we left a little space for
them to report their scores.
Almost 40 percent of the intelligence-praised children elevated their scores, whereas only 12 or 13
percent of children in the other group did so. To me this suggests that, after students are praised
for their intelligence, it’s too humiliating for them to admit mistakes.
The results were so striking that we repeated the study five times just to be sure, and each time
roughly the same things happened. Intelligence praise, compared to effort (or “process”) praise,
put children into a fixed mindset. Instead of giving them confidence, it made them fragile, so much
so that a brush with difficulty erased their confidence, their enjoyment, and their good
performance, and made them ashamed of their work. This can hardly be the self-esteem that parents
and educators have been aiming for.
Often, when children stop working in school, parents deal with this by reassuring their children
how smart they are. We can now see that this simply fans the flames. It confirms the fixed mindset
and makes kids all the more certain that they don’t want to try something difficult — something
that could lose them their parents’ high regard.
How should we praise our students? How should we reassure them? By focusing them on the process
they engaged in — their effort, their strategies, their concentration, their perseverance, or their
“You really stuck to that until you got it. That’s wonderful!”
“It was a hard project, but you did it one step at a time and it turned out great!”
“I like how you chose the tough problems to solve. You’re really going to stretch yourself and
learn new things.”
“I know that school used to be a snap for you. What a waste that was. Now you really have an
opportunity to develop your abilities.”
Can a growth mindset be taught directly to kids? If it can be taught, will it enhance their
motivation and grades? We set out to answer this question by creating a growth mindset workshop
(Blackwell, et al., 2007). We took seventh graders and divided them into two groups. Both groups
got an eight-session workshop full of great study skills, but the “growth mindset group” also got
lessons in the growth mindset — what it was and how to apply it to their schoolwork. Those lessons
began with an article called “You Can Grow Your Intelligence: New Research Shows the Brain Can Be
Developed Like a Muscle.” Students were mesmerized by this article and its message. They loved the
idea that the growth of their brains was in their hands.
This article and the lessons that followed changed the terms of engagement for students. Many
students had seen school as a place where they performed and were judged, but now they understood
that they had an active role to play in the development of their minds. They got to work, and by
the end of the semester the growth-mindset group showed a significant increase in their math
grades. The control group — the group that had gotten eight sessions of study skills — showed no
improvement and continued to decline. Even though they had learned many useful study skills, they
did not have the motivation to put them into practice.
The teachers, who didn’t even know there were two different groups, singled out students in the
growth- mindset group as showing clear changes in their motivation. They reported that these
students were now far more engaged with their schoolwork and were putting considerably more effort
into their classroom learning, homework, and studying.
Joshua Aronson, Catherine Good, and their colleagues had similar findings (Aronson, Fried, and
Good, 2002; Good, Aronson, and Inzlicht, 2003). Their studies and ours also found that negatively
stereotyped students (such as girls in math, or African-American and Hispanic students in math and
verbal areas) showed substantial benefits from being in a growth-mindset workshop. Stereotypes are
typically fixed- mindset labels. They imply that the trait or ability in question is fixed and that
some groups have it and others don’t. Much of the harm that stereotypes do comes from the
fixed-mindset message they send.
The growth mindset, while not denying that performance differences might exist, portrays abilities
as acquirable and sends a particularly encouraging message to students who have been negatively
stereotyped — one that they respond to with renewed motivation and engagement.
Inspired by these positive findings, we started to think about how we could make a growth mindset
workshop more widely available. To do this, we have begun to develop a computer-based program
called “Brainology.” In six computer modules, students learn about the brain and how to make it
work better. They follow two hip teens through their school day, learn how to confront and solve
schoolwork problems, and create study plans. They visit a state-of-the-art virtual brain lab, do
brain experiments, and find out such things as how the brain changes with learning — how it grows new connections every time students learn something new. They also learn how to use this idea in their schoolwork
by putting their study skills to work to make themselves smarter. We pilot-tested Brainology in 20 New York City schools. Virtually all of the students loved it and reported (anonymously) the ways in which they changed their ideas about learning and changed their learning and study habits. Here are some things they said in response to the question, “Did you change your mind about anything?”
I did change my mind about how the brain works…I will try harder because I know that the more you try, the more your brain works.Yes… I imagine neurons making connections in my brain and I feel like I am learning something.
My favorite thing from Brainology is the neurons part where when u learn something, there are
connections and they keep growing. I always picture them when I’m in school.
Teachers also reported changes in their students, saying that they had become more active and eager
learners: “They offer to practice, study, take notes, or pay attention to ensure that connections
will be made.”
What Do We Value?
In our society, we seem to worship talent — and we often portray it as a gift. Now we can see that
this is not motivating to our students. Those who think they have this gift expect to sit there
with it and be successful. When they aren’t successful, they get defensive and demoralized, and
often opt out. Those who don’t think they have the gift also become defensive and demoralized, and
often opt out as well.
We need to correct the harmful idea that people simply have gifts that transport them to success,
and to teach our students that no matter how smart or talented someone is — be it Einstein, Mozart,
or Michael Jordan — no one succeeds in a big way without enormous amounts of dedication and effort.
It is through effort that people build their abilities and realize their potential. More and more
research is showing there is one thing that sets the great successes apart from their equally
talented peers — how hard they’ve worked (Ericsson, et al., 2006).
Next time you’re tempted to praise your students’ intelligence or talent, restrain yourself.
Instead, teach them how much fun a challenging task is, how interesting and informative errors are,
and how great it is to struggle with something and make progress. Most of all, teach them that by
taking on challenges, making mistakes, and putting forth effort, they are making themselves
Carol S. Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and
the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Random House, 2006).
Aronson, J., Fried, C., & Good, C. (2002). Reducing the effects of stereotype threat on African
American college students by shaping theories of intelligence. Journal of Experimental Social
Psychology, 38, 113–125.
Binet, A. (1909/1973). Les idées modernes sur les enfants [Modern ideas on children]. Paris:
Flamarion. Blackwell, L., Trzesniewski, K., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Implicit Theories of Intelligence
Achievement Across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention. Child
Development, 78, 246–263.
Cimpian, A., Arce, H., Markman, E.M., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Subtle linguistic cues impact
children’s motivation. Psychological Science, 18, 314-316.
Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset. New York: Random House.
Ericsson, K.A., Charness, N., Feltovich, P.J., & Hoffman, R.R. (Eds.) (2006). The Cambridge
Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Good, C. Aronson, J., & Inzlicht, M. (2003). Improving adolescents’ standardized test performance:
An Intervention to reduce the effects of stereotype threat. Journal of Applied Developmental
Psychology, 24, 645-662.
Hong, Y.Y., Chiu, C., Dweck, C.S., Lin, D., & Wan, W. (1999) Implicit theories, attributions, and
coping: A meaning system approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 77, 588– 599.
Kamins, M., & Dweck, C.S. (1999). Person vs. process praise and criticism: Implications for
contingent self-worth and coping. Developmental Psychology, 35, 835–847.
Mangels, J. A., Butterfield, B., Lamb, J., Good, C.D., & Dweck, C.S. (2006). Why do beliefs about
intelligence influence learning success? A social-cognitive-neuroscience model. Social, Cognitive,
and Affective Neuroscience, 1, 75–86.
Mueller, C. M., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Intelligence praise can undermine motivation and
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 33–52.
Nussbaum, A.D., & Dweck, C.S. (2007, in press). Defensiveness vs. Remediation: Self-Theories and
Modes of Self-Esteem Maintenance. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.
National Association of Independent Schools
1129 20th Street, NW, Suite 800
NAIS is the national voice of independent education. We offer standards, targeted resources, and
networking opportunities for our 1,300
Tel (202) 973-9700
Washington DC, 20036-5695
© 1997-2012 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED