The growth mindset is the understanding of intelligence and abilities as qualities we can develop, has been shown over and over to have powerful ramifications on student motivation and learning, and school success. When students and educators have a growth mindset, they understand that intelligence can be developed. Students focus on improvement instead of worrying about how smart they are. They work hard to learn more and get smarter. Based on years of research by Stanford University’s Dr. Dweck, Lisa Blackwell Ph.D., and their colleagues, we know that students who learn this mindset show greater motivation in school, better grades, and higher test scores.
In 1988, Dr. Dweck first presented a research-based model to show the impact of mindsets. She showed how a person’s mindset sets the stage for either performance goals or learning goals. A student with a performance goal might be worried about looking smart all the time, and avoid challenging work. On the other hand, a student with a learning goal will pursue interesting and challenging tasks in order to learn more. In subsequent studies, Dr. Dweck found that people’s theories about their own intelligence had a significant impact on their motivation, effort, and approach to challenges. Those who believe their abilities are malleable are more likely to embrace challenges and persist despite failure. This model of the fixed vs. growth mindset shows how cognitive, affective, and behavioral features are linked to one’s beliefs about the malleability of their intelligence. The graphic below demonstrates this research, and how different mindsets lead to different patterns of behavior. Dweck, C.S. & Leggett, E.L. (1988). A Social-Cognitive Approach to Motivation and Personality
It’s important for parents to understand how their child’s mindset influences their behaviors, motivation, and achievement. More and more teachers and school administrators are embracing growth mindset as a strategy to bolster student motivation, and these same strategies can be used at home with great results. Here, we’ve compiled some resources to help parents understand what the growth mindset is, why it’s important, and how it can be supported in the home.