A growth mindset is a belief that, through hard work and practice, we can get develop any skill or ability. That means that struggling with something difficult doesn’t mean you’re not smart—it’s a chance to grow your brain. Growth mindset is all about trying hard, using good strategies, and getting the help you need.
Mindsets influence our life outcomes. Dr. Carol Dweck’s research on “fixed” mindsets (the belief that intelligence is unchangeable) and “growth” mindsets (the belief that abilities can grow with effort) shows that people who have a growth mindset bounce back better from setbacks and persevere through adversity. People with a growth mindset work longer and harder at tough problems, learn more, and get better results in the end than those with a fixed mindset. Being in a growth mindset may be foundational to building character skills and perhaps any skill.
Thankfully, a growth mindset can be cultivated through various means. For instance, by praising students’ efforts, strategies, and progress rather than their natural abilities, they will be more likely to work to overcome obstacles. Additionally, researchers have found that when students learn that their brain can grow as they learn, they are more likely to dedicate energy to growing and working hard. We also recommend using the word “yet.” When a student says, “I’m not good at this,” you can add “yet.” This turns a fixed mindset utterance into a growth mindset plan.