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Growth Mindset Lesson

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Growth Mindset Lesson

  1. 1. GROWTH MINDSET Horatio Alger Scholars Spring 2016 Retreat
  2. 2. GROWTH MINDSET OVERVIEW • What is growth mindset vs. fixed- mindset • Why is it important • Developing a growth mindset Source: Kenneth Silvestri Wordle
  3. 3. LEARNING OUTCOMES After participating in this growth mindset lesson, you will be able to: (1) Identify and define growth mindset (2) Distinguish between a growth mindset and a fixed mindset (3) Take steps to develop a growth mindset (4) Use a growth mindset for continuous learning in your academics and professional careers
  4. 4. WHAT IS GROWTH MINDSET? THINK: Take 2 minutes to think about what growth mindset means PAIR UP: Turn to the person next to you and discuss your thoughts SHARE: Have one person share your ideas with the rest of us Source: Wikipedia Commons
  5. 5. GROWTH MINDSET Basic abilities can grow and develop through application, practice, effort, and persistence. Image Source: iStockphoto.com
  10. 10. JK ROWLING Michael Jordan Steve Jobs
  13. 13. SUMMARY • Intelligence and ability are not fixed, but can be developed • Beliefs can guide our abilities • View effort in a positive light • Turn failures and criticism into learning opportunities • Avoid negative confirmation bias by focusing on positive traits and achievements
  14. 14. QUESTIONS

Notes de l'éditeur


    Today we are going to examine a concept and way of thinking that is often critical to being a successful learner, and thus college student. It is called growth mindset.

  • In this activity, we will cover what a growth mindset is and distinguish it from a fixed mindset

    Why it is important

    How to develop a growth mindset
  • ****Before moving on, have students take the Mindset Quiz.*****

    EXERCISE #1 (Individual, 10-15 Minutes): Mindset Quiz

    Distribute Quiz and give them 5 minutes or more if needed to complete it.

    Ask them which category they fall in to on page two by raising their hands if they fall into Strong Growth Mindset, Growth Mindset with some Fixed Ideas, Fixed Mindset with some Growth Ideas, or Strong Fixed Mindset.

    Ask them if they were surprised by their results?

    Tell them not to worry, that they are here today to begin developing a Strong Growth Mindset or confirm and validate what they are doing right to apply to other areas.
  • ****This is an activity designed to get students to think about their existing knowledge about growth mindset.****

    Exercise #2 (Pairs, 15-20 Minutes): Have students engage in think-pair-share activity:

    Individual Step: Give students 5 minutes to think about what growth mindset means to them.

    Pair or Group Step: Have students divide into pairs or groups to discuss their findings for 5 minutes. You may need to turn off lights or clap your hands to refocus attention on you.

    Share Step: Have someone from each group or if doing pairs, just call on 4-5 of the pairs to share their findings.

    Acknowledge and affirm key characteristics of growth mindset that they share:

    Everyone has the capacity to develop and grow their abilities

    Failures and criticisms are opportunities to learn

    Seek out challenges rather than avoid them

    Effort and hard work is valuable

    Praise any connections made to DeWitt Jones Everyday Creativity video.

  • Use this slide to build upon, synthesize or summarize what they shared into the central idea of growth mindset that your basic abilities can grow and develop through application, practice, hard work and effort, especially during times of great challenges and failures.

    What we are born with is just the starting point because our brains can develop over time.
  • Let’s briefly turn to some of the research to get a better understanding of growth mindset.

    For a long time, many psychologists viewed intelligence and talent as a fixed trait, that you are born with a certain amount of intelligence and ability that stays constant throughout your life and determines your ability to learn and be successful.

    Growth Mindset researchers found that intelligence is actually malleable and can grow, meaning it can be developed and grown through effort and hard work.

    Brain Muscle and Plant Analogy: In this sense, the brain is like any other muscle in the body that can grow and develop with the right amount of exercise and effort. All you need to do is plant the growth mindset seed in your brain for it to grow.

    This Growth Mindset concept is also supported by research done by neuroscientists studying neural connections in the brain. The ability of the brain to grow and strengthen connections between neurons is called neuroplasticity.

    Show Video by clicking on the link Neuroplasticity Video, here is the address if it does not play properly from the slide:

    Neuroplasticity Video:


    If we start with that premise that intelligence is not fixed, many good things can start to happen.

  • Our ability to develop a growth mindset is guided by our beliefs, not the abilities or intelligence we think we are born with. Growth mindset takes a certain belief system.

    Before we get to the beliefs that inform and guide a growth mindset, let’s examine and discuss the beliefs associated with a fixed mindset.

    First and most important among those is that we believe intelligence is fixed. The hand that we are dealt in terms of our intelligence and natural abilities determines all our outcomes.

    This can have a paralyzing effect on our success and ability to learn and leads to all sorts of counterproductive behaviors.

    Belief and Behavior Associated with Fixed Mindset: Sense of Belonging

    One of the biggest harmful side effects of a fixed mindset is a sense that we don’t belong where we are at, that every task we have, every challenge we face is an evaluation of whether we belong, including being at college.

    This stems from that idea that our fixed intelligence and natural abilities determine our outcomes, so we must make every attempt to prove that we belong or worst we fear and experience being at college because it will expose us and reveal to everyone that we are not supposed to be here.

    As a result, we then shift our focus and effort towards worrying about and keeping up appearances to look smart and belong, instead of focusing our effort on actual learning and the effort it takes to develop skills and knowledge.


    Fixed Mindset: A person with a fixed mindset views effort as a negative because it is a confirmation that one does not have enough talent or intelligence to perform the task.

    Growth Mindset: By contrast, a person with a growth mindset views effort in a positive way because it is the path to success and mastery of whatever one does.

    How this applies to being at college is that you may see classmates and friends seemingly skating by without putting any effort in. This may cause some to think that they don’t belong because they have to put so much effort in to do well or stay afloat.

    In reality, you don’t see what goes on behind the scenes and how much effort they are putting into getting good grades. Here is a good analogy for you, ducks can be seen effortlessly swimming around on a lake, but you can’t see the amount of effort paddling with their feet it takes to do that. You don’t always see what is going on beneath the surface.

    Effort is worthwhile and part of the process for a person with a growth mindset and it is something you can control.

    Did you know that studies have found that to do well in college, for every credit hour, a student needs to put in 2-3 hours studying outside of class. That is a lot of effort, right. Even geniuses have to work hard.

    Fixed Mindset: Naturally, we may see failure and criticism as a negative thing, as an indication of our lack of ability. Failure has an intrinsic negative connotation to it. That is fixed mindset thinking. Failure is to be avoided at all costs even if it means not trying at all because it will confirm and expose our lack of intelligence or ability.


    Growth Mindset: Failure and criticism to a person with a growth mindset is not really a failure or criticism at all but essential feedback on the path to success, a learning experience and opportunity to apply more effort to overcome the obstacle.

    A person with a growth mindset can embrace and even thrive during moments of failure and when receiving criticism.

    You see this approach being adopted in the tech and entrepreneurial community, this notion to embrace Fail early and Fail Often and Fail Forward. They realize that failure is part of success and the process of failure is important for learning.

  • As you can see, some very accomplished people across a broad spectrum of fields and sectors have adopted this growth mindset approach to failure and criticsim.

    JK Rowling – the first Harry Potter book was rejected by a dozen publishers

    Michael Jordan – Did not make his High School Varsity Basketball Team but went to win a NCAA Final Four championship, several NBA championships, and several MVP Awards
    Steve Jobs – was once fired from Apple at age 30, the same company he help found and was brought back to revitalize.
  • ****This exercise is designed to help students distinguish between someone with a growth mindset and fixed mindset in the context of college****

    Exercise #3 (A) (Groups 4-5 students, 20 Minutes): Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

    Choose a real or anticipated challenging academic scenario or situation faced by college students like you (may need to make suggestions - taking tests, difficult required class, writing papers, difficult subject, balancing your time etc.) Describe how a student with a growth mindset would approach this scenario or situation and how a student with a fixed mindset would approach this scenario or situation. What would the student with a growth mindset and fixed mindset say and do?

    Have one student explain their results to the larger group.

    Exercise #3(B) (Group (20 Minutes): Have students reconvene their groups and formulate some good habits for developing a growth mindset.

    As this growth mindset lesson is about you, it is important that you come up with some strategies and habits that will work for you to develop a growth mindset based on what we talked about today.

    Think about ways that you may already follow a growth mindset, share them with your group members, how can you build upon them and apply them to other areas? Think about ways that you may be following a fixed mindset, how can you change your behavior or reconfigure your thinking towards a growth mindset?

    Ask one group member to share with the larger group and write them on the board.

  • Now, to our last activity of this part of the day. Letter to a Future Student.

    Activity #4 (Individual, 20 minutes): Letter To Future Student

    Explain that this is not going to be graded and may be used to help a future student.

    Take a few minutes to think of a time when you overcame a struggle to learn something. It could be anything - from adding negative numbers to learning a technique in a sport to writing an introduction for a difficult essay. Reflect on the times when you failed at first but through persevering your brain created new neural connections and you eventually became better at the task at hand.

    Write a letter to a future student of your class about this struggle. In at least ten sentences, tell this student your story and give them advice on what they should do next time they en- counter an obstacle when learning something new. Feel free to be as creative as you would like.

    Tell them to think about what they wrote in this letter next time they are feeling overwhelmed or face a challenge. Tell them we will keep it on file and they can come view the letter for inspiration and discuss their challenge with us.

  • Collect the letters and summarize the lesson, then offer some parting words of encouragement.

    Closing Remarks: When you are feeling overwhelmed in the midst of multiple tests, a presentation, received a bad grade and a long paper due, approach them with a growth mindset.

    We all have the ability to grow, learn, overcome setbacks, put forth the effort that it takes. All you need to do is believe that you have the ability to grow and the rest will follow.