And you can see how it declines as you get from biology to math, engineering, computer science and physics. What they did was a National Survey of scholars in those disciplines, to find out from professors and graduate students: what brings success in your discipline? Did they believe being a top scholar or let’s say in math requires a special aptitude that just can’t be taught or did they believe when it comes to math the most important factors for success are motivation and sustained effort. Raw ability is secondary.
The more a discipline believed in a fixed mindset that it was sheer brainpower that could not be taught, the fewer women and minorities were in that discipline.
Conversely, the more they upheld a growth mindset, the more there were women and minorities in the discipline. Apparently, women do not see this culture of genius as hospitable or amenable to them.
So in summary, growth mindset and growth mindset environments allow students to embrace learning and growth instead of worrying all the time, will they look clever or not?
It allows them to understand that effort creates talent rather than believing if you have talent, you shouldn’t need effort. And it allows them to stay resilient in the face of setbacks instead of running from errors, and best of all, it can be taught.
Dr. Jonathan Rowson: In terms of teaching you say it can be taught.
Carol Dweck: Absolutely.
Dr. Jonathan Rowson: But the way you present there, it sounded like you were teaching at the level of kind of information, to sort of know that of growth and fixed. And to what extent does this sort of get under the skin and become dispositional and how does that come about?
Carol Dweck: Well, we have students do exercises as they’re receiving the information. For example, they summarize the evidence for growth mindset in their own words. Or they write a letter to a struggling student or friend of theirs, encouraging them in terms of a growth mindset. So we really create this personal engagement as they are receiving the material.
Dr. Jonathan Rowson: I guess the only thing with that is I mean if the children become informed of these two different ways of being, even with all the providers that you mentioned, is there a danger, that sometimes when you say, very well tried, did effort praising the process that the child thinks you’re only saying that because you think I’m not very smart.
Carol Dweck: You have to praise the process within a growth mindset, because if you’re just exhorting someone to try and they have that negative view of effort it won’t be effective. And if they try and then don’t succeed, they’ll feel even worse. You’ve got to have that growth mindset framework.
Resources for Further Reading: