Sunday, December 11, 2016


In Mindsetsand Equitable Education, Carol Dweck argues that beliefs of students, teachers, and administrators have a profound impact on students’ achievement. Research shows that students’ mindsets affect academic performance. In their recent PNAS paper, Claro, Paunesku and Dweck describe a fascinating analysis of the school performance data of almost 170,000 10th graders from 2,392 public schools in Chile. They demonstrate that students’ mindset is as powerful a predictor of achievement (measured as a composite of mathematics and language scores) as the previously known socioeconomic factors, such as family income and parents’ education. While fewer students from disadvantaged socioeconomic backgrounds exhibited growth mindset, those who did, and were in the lowest 10th percentile of family income, achieved standardized test scores comparable to students who came from the top 20th income percentile but did not demonstrate growth mindset. This is the first report to date showing that growth mindset might potentially temper effects of poverty on academic achievement.
Educators’ mindsetsare equally important - as Dweck states
"People with a growth mind-set don’t put people in categories and expect them to stay there, but people with a fixed mind-set do.
In addition to our GROWTH MINDSET FEEDBACK blogpost, the Standards Based Grading site offers interesting resources, including assessment methods that reflect the growth mindset of the teacher, and promote growth mindset in the student. They assert, "At the end of the day, whatever values we’re trying to promote can only go as far as the way we assess and evaluate the kids."

The cultural shift towards more growth minded classroom cannot happen without changing the institutional mindset. The MindsetWorks site provides a 20-question quiz assessing your school's culture with regard to growth mindset practices. There are examples of entire universities using growth mindset as an institutional paradigm. For example, High Point University made growth mindset a central theme of their strategic plan.

Carole Dweck ends her 2010 article with a message, probably more relevant today than ever:
“Teachers and administrators should send messages that intelligence is fluid, and they need to hear such messages too. They need to keep growing, especially in these challenging and changing times. Thus, they, too, need permission to learn—the freedom to stretch themselves, make mistakes, and try again. Only in growth mind-set cultures, where teachers and administrators are encouraged to fulfill their potential, will they be able to help their students fulfill their potential in schools that are free of bias.”

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