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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen innumerable innovations and initiatives come into education. So referring to research and evidence base is a really important way of checking out what we want to pilot. Are we spending our resources well? And one bit of research I think has been very powerful is Professor Carol Dweck’s theory called growth mindsets. In essence, this is a question about identity, or self theory, how do we see ourselves. And what Carol Dweck’s three decades plus has demonstrated in this area is that there’s one core belief that can make an enormous difference to how a student responds to failure, struggle, and difficulty, and therefore how creative, open, and risk-taking they might be.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 seconds And that core belief is this, ‘I have been born with a fixed intelligence.’ Now, the repercussions of that belief– which, by the way, are scientifically not true– are pretty damaging. If a child fails at something, their message that they get back from that failure is, oh, I’m no good at this thing. My brain is not hardwired to do this. So, I’m no good at maths, for example. Now, that might be no good at maths up until now. But as a lifelong, hard-wired prison that I live in, absolutely not true because the mind is malleable, plastic, and trainable. So the growth mindset takes a different view, that my intelligence is actually a changeable thing. Truman Capote I put it nicely.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 seconds He said that failure is the seasoning that gives success its flavour. The growth mindset understands that the buzz comes out of the struggle, that trying things, and changing my intelligence by effort and practise is absolutely key to the intrinsic motivation, the growth of learning. So the key question, of course, is how do you erode this wrong belief about my intelligence being fixed and change it so that it matches the neuroscientific reality of the mind? And we’ve got to be careful here, in that it’s not saying that we can all be geniuses at everything, and it’s not saying that there aren’t genetic components to it. There are. Carol Dweck is arguing though, that they are all malleable and trainable.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds So it’s not, I can’t do maths, it’s I can’t do maths yet. It’s still up for grabs. It’s worth putting effort into. So one of the key foci here is looking at ways in which we can switch going from the fixed mindset– a wrong belief– to the growth mindset. And that would include all sorts of activities, but particularly how we praise children.

Feedback and the growth mindset

In the previous step, you considered the implications of each of the different types of feedback for developing effective learning partnerships. In this step, Will Ord, who you last heard from in step 3.17, talks about Carol Dweck’s research on the growth mindset and how it relates to feedback.

Dweck’s research (1986, 1999) argues that teachers should praise effort rather than performance. Children’s self-theories of intelligence influence their response to schooling and their motivation to learn. As Dweck has shown, children who believe that their intelligence is fixed are less likely to make an effort to learn, whereas those who believe that their intelligence can grow, will try harder when faced with a learning challenge. If teachers praise effort rather than performance, children’s intrinsic theories can be altered and children’s motivation to learn can increase.

Consider to what extent you use appropriate, accurate, fair and honest feedback with your girls. How do you weave in a growth mind-set approach to your feedback? Share your ideas in the comments section.

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This video is from the free online course:

Girls' Education: Teaching Strategies That Develop Confidence, Resilience and Collaboration

Girls' Day School Trust