How a Growth Mindset Can Help Students Flourish This Spring
Spring is a season of renewal, a chance for growth; the weather grows warmer, the days grow longer, and the flowers grow faster. This time of year also marks an opportunity for teachers and students alike to refresh their mindsets, a chance for a Spring renewal within the classroom.
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To cultivate this renewal, we must promote a growth mindset. Perhaps best illustrated by the allegory presented in this short video.
Imagine two seeds, both planted simultaneously and under the same conditions. One is ready for life above the soil, while the other is fearful. The timid seed decides it is safest underground, while the brave seed bursts out of its shell and grows toward the sun’s warm rays. Though not all days above ground are sunny and clear, the brave seed continues to grow into a thriving plant, always remembering that the sun will return.
These two seeds highlight the differences between fixed and growth mindsets. First coined by Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, these terms describe people’s underlying beliefs about learning and intelligence. According to Harvard Business School, an individual with a fixed mindset views intelligence, abilities, and talents as inherently stable and unchangeable over time, whereas an individual with a growth mindset views the same traits as being learnable and capable of improvement through effort.
Cultivating a growth mindset within the classroom can promote a lifelong love of learning, improved career success, and transfer outside of school, while viewing education through a fixed mindset lens can lead to feelings of insecurity, perfectionism, and stagnation (Cengage).
Promoting a growth mindset over a fixed mindset has also proven to increase student test scores. According to Education Week, students with a strong growth mindset scored nearly 32 points higher in reading, 27 points higher in science, and 23 points higher in math than their counterparts with a fixed mindset.
The American University School of Education offers numerous strategies for planting a growth mindset in your classroom, including normalizing struggle, embracing the word “yet,” demonstrating mistakes and celebrating corrections, and avoiding celebrating intelligence. Additionally, it proposes many ways to sow a growth mindset into the teaching profession, such as valuing the process over the result, experimenting with different teaching methods and learning strategies, and celebrating growth.
As we continue in this season of renewal and growth, seize this opportunity to refresh your mindset and those of your students.
To learn more about Carol Dweck’s research and discover more tangible ways to make a growth mindset a reality in your classroom and school, visit the links below.
Contributor: Cameron Gupton, ECU
Growth Mindset vs. fixed mindset: What’s the difference? Business Insights Blog. 2022, March 10. https://online.hbs.edu/blog/post/growth-mindset-vs-fixed-mindset
How to foster a growth mindset in the classroom: American University. School of Education Online. 2022, October 27. https://soeonline.american.edu/blog/growth-mindset-in-the-classroom/
Hull, B. 2023, April 12. Benefits of Growth Mindset & Dangers of Fixed Mindset: Cengage. Today’s Learner. https://todayslearner.cengage.com/the-benefits-of-a-growth-mindset-dangers-of-a-fixed-mindset/
Sparks, S. D. 2021, April 20. ‘Growth mindset’ linked to higher test scores, student well-being in Global Study. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/leadership/growth-mindset-linked-to-higher-test-scores-student-well-being-in-global-study/2021/04