Learning Innovation Teaching Resources

Growth Mindset


What is it

Growth mindset emphasizes intelligence as a developable skill rather than a trait set in stone. Research shows students who are praised for their intelligence are more likely to choose future tasks that will make them “look smart” while students who are praised for their effort are more likely to choose future tasks that will challenge them and help them learn new things. The goal is to help encourage student growth and involvement in the classroom by restructuring the concept of success and failure to encourage effort over “inherent” cleverness.

It is not as simplistic as “if you try hard enough, you’ll succeed.” Rather, growth mindset strategies emphasize the need to try hard and to try new strategies in order to accomplish and succeed at a task. The emphasis lies in fostering student flexibility in thinking and help them learn from “failures.”


How to implement it

The easiest way to encourage a growth mindset in students is to model it within the classroom. As the instructor, exercising the ability to develop the intelligence demonstrates the value of effort within the classroom. Instructors should view themselves as learners, just as the students are learners, and make their stance as a learner explicit.

This can be accomplished through the following:

  • Creating space for new ideas: Teachers should try new things and be alright with making mistakes - think of these new approaches, activities, or assignments not as whether they will succeed or fail but rather on what students will learn from them. Being transparent about successful and failed attempts helps correct the idea an educated person is one who does not make mistakes.
  • Provide time for self-reflection: Both for instructor and student, periodic check-ins on lessons, assignments, or tests will help the class process what was learned, how it was learned, and how one can be more successful in the future. Asking students how an activity or assignment went both demonstrates a teacher’s flexibility and establishes students have control over their own education.
  • Formative, rather than summative, feedback: Rather than looking at an assignment, test, or essay as a fixed, finished product, feedback should help emphasize what a student can continue to work on. Phrases such as “moving forward, focus on…” or “keep pushing your efforts towards…” help demonstrate learning is an ongoing process.

Other resources

Growth Mindset Lesson Plan, Mindset Kit
The Education with a Growth Mindset: A Professional Development Workshop, User Generated Education
Standford University's Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education, One Dublin