Children who believe they can improve in a subject are more likely to try challenging work and not let a failure sink them, researchers believe.
Education researchers at Stanford University have released a new set of video tutorials showing teachers and parents how to help students develop a “growth mindset” — a belief that their intelligence can grow over time.
One of the videos, which is aimed at parents, compared statements that reflect a fixed mindset — or the belief that intelligence is innate — with a growth one. Fixed mindset examples: “I’m dumb,” “This is too hard,” “She must be smart.” Growth mindset alternatives: “What am I missing?” “This will take a lot of effort,” “I want to learn her strategies.”
The video also encourages parents to pay attention to what they say about themselves, praise the learning process rather than the outcome, and show kids how they learn from their own failures.
As a number of studies have demonstrated, the way students view intelligence can affect their academic performance. If they think they can improve, they’re more likely to try challenging problems and not let failure set them back, researchers believe.
Another video, for teachers, encourages them to “praise the process, not the person.” It shows an experiment with fifth-graders, in which the students were assigned a set of moderately challenging math problems and then praised with different statements. Researchers told all the students, “Wow, that’s a really good score,” but one-third of students also heard a fixed-mindset statement (“You must be smart at this.”) and another third heard a growth-mindset form of praise. (“You must have tried really hard.”)
All the students were then given a more challenging set of problems, followed by a third set of similar difficulty to the first. Children in the control group who only heard, “Wow that’s a really good score,” solved the same number of problems on the third set of problems as they did on the first. Those who heard growth-mindset statements were, on average, able to successfully solve 1.5 more problems than before, and those who heard fixed-mindset praise solved one fewer problem.
“What I’ve learned from my research is that kids … are exquisitely sensitive to what’s going on in a situation — what other people value, what they’re being judged on,” Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychology professor and author of the book “Mindset” said in the video.
The videos were developed by Stanford’s Project for Education Research That Scales, or PERTS.