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Promoting Growth Mindsets - Avoiding a False Growth Mindset

A Note of Caution

While the widespread popularity of the Growth Mindset approach has certainly made it more accessible to many, it has also led to some misinterpretations as the original idea born of the scholarly research has been applied by individuals not familiar with the primary sources.  Unfortunately, this has become a big enough issue that Dr. Carol Dweck herself has warned about a “False Growth Mindset.”  Below is a table that further explains what IS and is NOT a Growth Mindset.

What is Growth Mindset...

Growth Mindset IS… Growth Mindset Is NOT…
focusing on the process and effort behind learning and clearly connecting it to tangible outcomes. simply praising effort and process—regardless of the outcome—without explaining how the particular process is meant to connect to the learning outcome or product.
convincing students that having a Growth Mindset in general tends to be  good thing. trying to convince students that they must have a Growth Mindset about everything and that talent or differences in ability aren’t real.
a collaborative process whereby instructors create a Growth Mindset promoting climate, and in so doing develop their own Growth Mindsets while helping their students do the same. putting the onus solely on students for having or not having the “right” orientation toward learning.
designed to help students with their approach and strategies to move past challenges, difficulties, or failures in their academic progress. about empty praise and trying to boost self-esteem, or praising efforts that aren’t resulting in better learning outcomes.