Math and Mindset

Growth Mindset and the Effect of Praise on Children’s Beliefs about Learning


Based on Carol Dweck’s research, we now know that the types of praise we use with children can influence their beliefs about learning and intelligence—whether  intelligence is fixed and cannot be changed  (fixed mindset) or if through effort and hard work you can improve your intelligence (growth mindset).

Each type of mindset affects not only students’ motivation to learn but also their success and achievement in school.

So, when we praise intelligence, or say things like, “Wow! You are so smart!” we are sending a fixed mindset message. But if we say things like, “Wow! You worked so hard at that!” we are sending a growth mindset message. Children are exquisitely attuned to the messages we send!

Classroom Connection:

Creating a Growth Mindset Classroom Culture

Recent neurological research on the brain shows what happens when we make mistakes. Surprisingly, the research tells us that making a mistake is actually a good thing! Mistakes are not only opportunities for learning, as students consider their mistakes, but also a time when our brains grow.Beautiful_oops

What can teachers do to encourage a growth mindset about mistakes?

The goal is to normalize mistakes and that it’s okay to make mistakes especially when we are learning something new…

Try sending messages like, “I’m not going to be good at this right away, I’m going to make mistakes, and that’s okay.“

“Practice means progress…” Try reading Beautiful Oops and have a discussion about the value of making mistakes.

Model this discussion by describing a mistake you made and what you learned from that mistake. Don’t forget to mention whether you adopted a new strategy to solve that problem as a result of the mistake.

Reflection: Did you notice yourself reacting differently to mistakes in the classroom?

Resource article: “Mistakes Grow Your Brain” by Jo Boaler