Monday, April 13, 2009

"Growth" vs."Fixed" Minds

This week's blog post once again is taken from iTunesU. This podcast and free video from Stanford University featured psychologist and author, Carol Dweck, talking about the fact that a lot of students think their intelligence and cognitive abilities are "fixed"; that is, it is already set in stone, so to speak. These types of students will not attempt anything new unless they know that they will excel at whatever task they are trying to accomplish. The other type of students believe that their intelligence can be developed with practice and by processing and understanding new knowledge. These types of students develop good study skills and are able to put these skills into practice. As a matter of fact, in my psychology class we are studying intelligence and academic success and how these are affected by the way the students see themselves and are able to motivate themselves.

Students who have a "fixed" mindset do not usually do as well academically because they do not have the ability or know how to motivate themselves to do well in school. They figure that since learning and intelligence are already determined for them, and they are just going to fail, why should they try? This mindset can be very detrimental to students trying to succeed in school because they are already defeated before they even begin. On the other hand, students with a "growth" mindset do not see learning through trial and error as a negative thing, and allow themselves the room to make mistakes in their academics and other aspects of their life. Hence, they tend to learn new materials with a much more open mind and allow things to develop gradually until they can understand and grasp what is being presented in the classroom. They learn to "exercise" their brains, and become more intelligent and knowledgeable through their academic experiences.

This information affects me as a future teacher because I need to be able to recognize the differences between students who possess a "fixed" mindset and those that have a "growth" mindset. This will help me to be able to better help and motivate those of my students that do have a "fixed" mindset and help them break the cycle. I need to help these students understand that it is okay to make mistakes, that it doesn't mean you are stupid. I must explain to them at an early age that this is how we learn and remind them that everyone makes mistakes, even adults.

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