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Category Archive: mindset

Misconception 7: the concept of mindset is only about children

mindset ageImplicitly, many people still assume that learning and developing is primarily something  for when we are young and not so much for when we are adults, let alone for the elderly. In line with this assumption is the belief that the theory of mindset is mainly – perhaps even exclusively – relevant for children and adolescents. If this were true, knowledge about mindset would mainly be useful for education and parenthood. And while it is indeed very useful for these domains it is not true that mindsets are not relevant for adults and for old people. Mindset play an important role throughout our lives.  Click here to read more »

Misconception 6: improving learning and performance is purely a matter of changing mindsets

classroomWhenever approaches gain popularity there is always a certain danger that some people start viewing them as magic bullets, approaches capable of solving just about any problem. But no approach can be expected to solve each and every problem. The same goes for helping people develop a growth mindset. Creating a growth mindset culture will often provide a good contribution to improving the effectiveness of individuals, schools, sports teams, and organizations. But it is never the only thing you will need to improve effectiveness. For example, creating a growth mindset culture in class rooms is likely to help to create a more pleasant atmosphere and better learning in classes but there are many other things to consider in order to create effective education. Also, there are other theoretical perspectives which can be quite useful for improving education. It is probably unwise to look at reality through only one theoretical lens. There are other theoretical lenses which might also be valid and useful.  Click here to read more »

Misconception 5: people with a growth mindset are obsessive about learning and always want to be the best

media_xll_1789317I have met a few people who thought that a growth mindset meant that it has to do with an obsessive focus on learning and an wish to compete with and outdo other people. They asked things like: “But why we always grow? Why can’t we ever be satisfied with how things are? Must we always make progress?” If you think that a growth mindset has to with never being satisfied, being obsessively focused on learning, and on being very competitive, you truly misunderstand the concept. Click here to read more »

Misconception 4: the theory of mindset is only about intelligence

4Many conversations about mindset focus on the malleability of intellectual abilities. They usually focus on questions such as, can anyone become more intelligent, and can anyone become better at math? That is understandable because the majority of the research studies which have been done focus on the effects of mindsets with respect to intellectual abilities. But mindsets are relevant to other domains, too. Here are a few examples (by the way, this list is not exhaustive):  Click here to read more »

Misconception 3: not much can be done about what kind of mindset you have

mindsetSometimes, people who hear about the advantages of a growth mindset ask whether it is really possible to change one’s mindset. They wonder whether mindset isn’t mainly a matter of personality or predisposition. That is not the case. Much research has been done which shows that mindsets aren’t fixed. What is true is that mindsets often are stable in practice.  This has to do with the fact that mindsets are self-inforcing.

When you have a fixed mindset with respect to a certain topic (for example math), it is not likely that you will put in much effort, persist when there are setbacks, and ask for help. Without those behaviors you will probably not get much better. And the fact that you don’t get better is easily (mis-) interpreted as a sign that your fixed mindset is valid.   Click here to read more »

Misconception 2: the theory of mindset says that anyone either has a fixed or a growth mindset

distributionSaying that people either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset is a oversimplification of reality. It is not true that people simply either have a fixed or a growth mindset. Instead of thinking about mindsets dualistic terms, it is more accurate to think about them in terms of continuums. In other words, there are different degrees of having a growth mindset. Carol Dweck found that among students roughly 40% had a fixed mindset with respect to their math abilities; another 40% had a growth mindset, and the remaining 20% could neither be classified as having a fixed mindset nor as having a growth mindset (Dweck, 2008). Click here to read more »

Misconception 1: the theory of mindset says that anyone can learn and achieve anything

Einstein_laughingSometimes, when people are confronted with the theory of mindset, they respond in disbelief, saying something like: “Are you saying that anyone could become an Einstein? Surely that is not possible!” Well, if the theory of mindset would assert such a bold thing, disbelief would be understandable. But is does not. Rather, it says something like:  anyone, no matter who he or she is, or where he or she now stands, can become smarter or, more generally put, can make progress if that person puts in effort and uses effective learning strategies. That may sound like a subtle difference but it is an important difference. Click here to read more »

10 misconceptions about mindset

9781400062751-140x215The work of Carol Dweck and her colleagues about mindsets is getting more well-known. Mindset is about the important effects of what people believe about the malleability of their characteristics and abilities (read more in my interview with Carol Dweck). As is the case with many things, what the concept of mindset means and implies can easily be misunderstood. Here are 10 misconceptions about mindset which I have encountered.


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11 Effective learning strategies

MH900399895We know that, for learning and growth, beliefs about our ability to learn and putting in effort both matter a lot. There is a third factor that also matters a lot which is using effective learning strategies. On Annie Murphy Paul’s website I learned about some interesting research on this topic. While students differ a lot in the degree to which they know about and apply effective learning strategies (low achieving students know and apply them much less than high achieving students) little attention is paid in schools to teaching students how to learn effectively. Here is a list of such effective learning strategies:


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A White Paper on The Importance of Academic Mindsets

With permission of David Scott Yeager I am posting here the executive summary of a white paper which was prepared for the White House meeting on Excellence in Education: The Importance of Academic Mindsets. Please note that part of the data on this latest research are still unpublished and should not be quoted or cited without permission.


How Can We Instill Productive Mindsets at Scale?

A Review of the Evidence and an Initial R&D Agenda


David S. Yeager, Dave Paunesku, Gregory M. Walton, & Carol S. Dweck


Executive Summary
Research has increasingly shown that there is more to student success than cognitive ability, curriculum and instruction. Students’ mindsets—their beliefs about themselves and the school setting—can powerfully affect whether students learn and grow in school. For example, when students have a fixed mindset, they believe that their intelligence is something that is finite and unchangeable. This makes them doubt their intelligence when they experience difficulty and it undermines resilience and learning. However, when students have more of a growth mindset, they believe that intelligence can be developed. In this mindset, students respond more resiliently to challenges and show greater learning and achievement in the face of difficulty. Randomized experimental studies find that even brief interventions that convey a growth mindset can have important, lasting effects on student learning and performance. For instance:  Click here to read more »

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