What is A Growth Mindset?
Growth Mindset is arguably one of the most popular psychological theories in education. It describes the belief that one has that their abilities and intelligence can develop and improve. At the other end of the spectrum, is a Fixed Mindset, which covers the belief that intelligence is set in stone.
This area of psychology has been much researched and heavily debated. So what are the benefits associated with having a Growth Mindset?
The Benefits of a Growth Mindset
Having a growth mindset can help with alleviating stress. This is especially important for students as during their time at school they will experience many stressful situations, from exams revision, to university applications. Learning how to manage stress early on can have drastic benefits for students. Evidence shows that students with a growth mindset generally have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
This is possibly because students with a growth mindset are more resilient. They are able to approach seemingly stressful situations in a calm and collected manner. They don’t see setbacks as a failure and don’t take it to mean that they will never succeed. Instead, they view setbacks as temporary obstacles and use them as an opportunity to learn. This reduces the stress that comes along with exams and assessments as students believe that even the most stressful situation is one that they can benefit from. In turn, reduced levels of stress contribute to improved wellbeing; a key aspect of student success.
Handle change better
The resilience that develops in students once they foster their growth mindset helps them cope better with change. Change is inevitable especially as a student, whether this is transitioning between year groups or being exposed to new and unfamiliar topics. It can have negative consequences if the individual is not prepared to deal with it. Those who cope best with change are able to adapt faster and more effectively. Students with a growth mindset believe they can develop their skills and are therefore likely to cope better with change. They welcome change and view each unknown as an opportunity to further either their academic or personal development.
An individual’s mindset is crucial to their ability to monitor and manage their emotions, thoughts and behaviours. This is known as self-regulation. Research suggests that individuals can improve their self-regulation by developing a growth mindset. There is a strong association between the two as they both focus on persistence and personal growth to achieve goals. They complement each other and by acquiring a growth mindset, you will get the best of both worlds.
Self-esteem plays a key role in the success of students in the classroom, and beyond.. Evidence suggests that students with a high growth mindset experienced were consistent in their levels of self-esteem, even when their academic grades fluctuated and declined. This is possibly because those with a growth mindset don’t tie performance to identity; they appreciate their hard work when they’ve done well but don’t dwell on the mistakes and failures. Subsequently, they build resilience and maintain their confidence. Self-esteem can be a point of motivation for many and so enhancing it by developing a growth mindset, will helps students continue to work hard and explore their full potential.
Better Study Habits
We know that some study techniques are more effective than others (i.e. retrieval practice, spacing and interleaving). Likewise, we know that motivation can play an important part during revision. So what impact does having a growth mindset have on these areas? A recent study found that students with a growth mindset were more likely to place higher value on effective revision strategies and were more likely to be intrinsically motivated whilst completing them..
Seek Out Better Feedback
In the seminal growth mindset study, researchers found that those with a growth mindset were much more likely to ask for feedback about how to do a task better next time, than those with a fixed mindset (who were more likely to ask for either praise or want a comparison of their performance compared to their peers). Long-term, one would expect the use of the former’s feedback to yield much higher rates of learning and performance than compared to the latter
This is a hotly contested area of research. Numerous studies from around the world, including some with over 160,000 students in it, have found that growth mindset does have a positive and significant impact on grades. However, it is worth noting that many other studies have not found a link between mindset and grades. Further research is still needed understanding the difference between these two findings, as the context and time-frame of how it is measured may play a significant role.
Evidence suggests that there are numerous benefits of having a growth mindset. These include how they handle stressful situations, how they seek out feedback and how they choose to study. It can also help improve their self-esteem and resilience. More research is still needed in this area, as it is a fascinating and potentially very powerful framework to help students develop.