Posted by dlander2012
On Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend the MathConnect Conference in Calgary. The first keynote speaker of the day was Carol S. Dweck Ph.D., author of Mindset.
Dr. Dweck’s “research focuses on why students succeed and how to foster their success. More specifically, her work has demonstrated the role of mindsets in success and has shown how praise for intelligence can undermine students’ motivation and learning.” (http://mathconnect.org/wp/presenters/)
Although I learned a lot about her work through the Mindset book study our Learning Services team participated in last year, it was great to hear her story in person. I am using this blog post to share some elements of the presentation that stood out most for me.
Dr. Dweck told us that Alfred Benet originally developed the IQ test to see which students weren’t succeeding with the current curriculum, and used the results to change that curriculum. Like other theories and concepts that have been applied out of context (e.g. Bloom’s Taxonomy, Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences), educators have misconstrued the intent of the IQ test, and the result has led to the idea of intelligence being a fixed trait.
Current research shows “the brain can be developed like a muscle”; every time you stretch out of comfort zone, neurons grow new connections. So intelligence CAN be developed.
2 Opposing Beliefs
Fixed mindset– intelligence is a fixed trait
Growth mindset– intelligence is a malleable quality; a potential that can be developed
As a result of her research, Dweck has developed several “mindset rules” which help us differentiate between fixed and growth mindsets:
Fixed mindset– look smart at all costs; tell me when I’m right
Growth mindset– learn at all costs; tell me when I’m wrong
Students with a growth mindset care more about learning than about grades. Good grades are the bi-product of effort and a successful learning path, not of an innate intelligence.
Fixed mindset– learning should come naturally; if you have ability you shouldn’t need effort
Growth mindset– work hard, effort is key; ability is increased over time
Geniuses are a result of the work and effort they put in over time- building on successes and addressing their shortcomings, over and over again; continually trying until they succeed.
Fixed mindset– hide mistakes: In the face of setbacks, these students said they would spend less time on the subject from now on, why spend time on something I’m not good at?
Growth mindset– capitalize on mistakes, formulate new strategies to address the problem. In the face of setbacks, these students said they’d spend more time studying and work harder in class.
Fixed mindset– Praising intelligence develops a fixed mindset- in Carol’s research, these kids wanted a task that they could easily be successful on.
Growth mindset– Praising process and effort develops a growth mindset- these kids wanted a harder task that they could learn from.
Human beings are born as natural learners, so how do we make sure our students remain learners? Kids are tuned in to what the environment values; if we value effort, hard work, and progression of skill development, they will, too. Growth mindset has kids embrace learning and growth, and understand the role of effort in creating talent; it can be taught everyday in our classrooms.
How can we help students develop a growth mindset?
- Praise effort, struggles and persistence despite setbacks.
- Praise the strategies they try and choices they make.
- Praise choosing difficult tasks, praise learning and improving; do not praise marks
- Use the word YET- “not yet” puts you on a learning trajectory- “I’m not there yet, but I will get there.”
How does this relate to teaching math?
Many students have given up on math because they believe they are not good at math, and will never “get” math.
Fixed mindset– Teachers comfort students who are doing poorly, telling them, “Don’t worry, not everyone is good at math.” This kind of feedback writes kids off, gives kids lower confidence that they could ever do it, releases them from the responsibility of ever doing well in math.
Growth mindset – Teacher says, “Let’s work to understand what you are not getting, and try some strategies to see how you can get better.” When teacher and students believe skills can be developed, it opens students up to learning.
Mindset Website http://www.mindsetworks.com/default.aspx
Students are very interested in how their brains work and how they can get smarter. I’m really excited about the Brainology application Dweck’s team has developed. “Brainology raises students’ achievement by helping them develop a growth mindset.” Guided by Brain Orb, students learn how the brain works, how we learn, and some brain-based learning strategies.
The website also has a teacher toolkit to support teachers in developing a growth mindset in their classroom.
Our students are so fortunate that our school division is embracing Dr. Dweck’s work. Won’t it be great when all of our students demonstrate a growth mindset!!