Growth Mindset Vs Fixed Mindset 

April 7, 2022

As part of the learning we offer in Matrix International School, our students learn about ‘the art of learning’. The aim is to enable students to find out more about how we learn, and how we can improve the way we learn, so they can be better equipped to deal with the many challenges they will face in their learning.

Our students learn about the terms ‘fixed mindset’ and ‘growth mindset’. These terms stem from the research of Carol Dweck, a psychologist with Stanford University. This research was based on giving an identical test to two groups of children. One group was praised for their effort while the other group was praised for their intelligence. After receiving the feedback, the children were then told they would have another test, however they could decide between a simple one or a harder one from which they might learn more. The results from her research found that nearly all students who were praised for their effort wanted to try the harder test, whereas nearly 80% of the children who were praised for their intelligence opted for the easier test. The summary of her research – praise process and not ability.

Through this research, she explained that the difference between the children was their mindset. The children praised for their intelligence were classified as having a ‘fixed mindset’ – performance orientated, likely to give up easily and less likely to fulfil their potential.

On the other hand, the children praised for their effort were classified as having a ‘growth mindset’ – learning orientated, embraces challenges and believes intelligence is developed (not given from birth).

Part of the learning journey for our students is experiencing failures and their ability to address them. Students who focus on intelligence will view failure as a lack of ability whereas students who focus on effort will see failures as an opportunity to grow through hard work. To motivate our students to develop a growth mindset, it is important that we:

  • Avoid praising intelligence and focus on praising effort
  • Normalise struggle as part of the learning process
  • Encourage working with others
  • Set realistic goals
  • Encourage involvement with challenges
  • Adopt the word “yet”

Mr. Andrew Hamilton, Head of Matrix International School who is from Northern Ireland has 10 years of teaching experience. His educational experience, alongside his involvement in youth work, has propelled good practices in his teaching profession. His best moments in teaching are the interactions with the students: the times when they have that ‘Eureka!’ moment, or when he supports them in overcoming their own challenges, or the times they make him smile with their words or actions.