Carol Dwecks research on growth and fixed ‘Mindsets’ has seen a recent resurgence in interest and popularity here, but one wonders whether teachers understand what it might mean for their practice.
This is what Dweck says about mindset: “We found that students mindsets- how they perceive their abilities – played a key role in their motivation and achievement and we found that if we changed their mindsets we could boost their achievement. More precisely students who believed their intelligence could be developed (ie growth mindset ) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (ie fixed mindset)”
But it is worth noting that John Hattie found ,in his seminal work ‘Visible Learning’ – that growth mindset only had an effect size of.19 well below the hinge point of .40 . So not much then compared to, for example, providing feedback, which is .73
I have never been entirely sure about the implied science based precision in Hatties work, and given the confusion over what a growth mindset actually means it’s a bit of a dangerous game to seek to measure its effect in this way, I would have thought. What confusion, you may ask? Well its pretty clear that to some teachers growth mindset translates pretty much to ‘more effort’. But Dweck reminds us that it isn’t just about more effort. She has said” Perhaps the most common misconception is simply equating growth mindset with effort”
So if its not just effort, what is it? Dweck talks about new strategies , seeking help from others when you are stuck and “ a repertoire of new approaches” which frankly isn’t all that helpful. Maybe the problem is that I am stuck with a fixed mindset (with too many cognitive biases to boot ). But I suspect teachers need a little more help in understanding how to help learners develop a growth mindset and what that might mean for their classroom practice.
Some suggestions for Teachers ?