How Can You Help Your Students Develop A Growth Mindset in Mathematics?

Nov 28, 2020

Development of a growth mind-set is critical to the adoption of proper learning oriented behavior.

Now the question is, what exactly is a growth mindset? If put in simple terms, students who have a growth mindset believe in the power of hard work to achieve results. They believe that it is possible to develop intelligence through hard work and know that they should not avoid challenges. Instead, they should embrace them as an opportunity since that is one of the prime modes facilitating learning.

The individuals who have a growth mindset will thus focus their energy on improving themselves rather than worrying themselves out with the very thought of meeting with failure. Carol Dweck, Social and Developmental Psychologist from Stanford made a framework to help us understand why some students are unable to reach the full potential when others amaze through their deeds.

“In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.” – Remarks Carol Dweck.

Not hard to guess, the way students think cast a significant impact on the way they learn. If a given student shudders at the very thought of meeting with a challenge, they will never be able to perform. On the other hand, the students who regard meeting with a challenge as an opportunity to better their intelligence level are bound to better it. It may not be possible in a single day but in case they go on countering the challenges they meet, they will certainly be able within little time.

What are the Categories of Mindset?

The framework of Carol Dweck divides the learners into two different categories. They are growth and fixed.

Students with a fixed mindset believe that they are not good at something because of their inherent nature.

The students with a growth mindset believe that anyone can excel in anything since the abilities developed by one chiefly depends on the actions that are adopted by a given individual.

Though the theory appears to be quite simple, there is a lot of depth in these concepts.

Here is how Dweck points out the difference.

“In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”

The advantages of having a growth mindset are quite obvious though most have a fixed mindset.

Remember that someone having a fixed mindset will not have that mindset always. At times, they may show off the growth mindset as well. All these aspects will depend on the situation.

Having a fixed mindset is dangerous as that prevents the development of significant skills and this has the power to sabotage happiness as well as health in due course.

How to Foster Growth Mindset among the Students?

You know that coming with a fixed mindset impedes the growth, development as well as overall wellbeing of children. Thus, it is crucial to develop growth mindset among the children. Here are a few ways you can go about it.

  • Focus on Effort

If you praise students for working hard, they will work harder.

Praise a student for earning A+, and see them focus more on getting A+ just to be praiseworthy. The students don’t like being a failure and in case they meet failure, they find a really tough time to get back on track.

Be cautious. The teachers who encourage the students a lot tend to think that they are fostering growth mindset among the students. This is not true.

According to Dweck, “Growth mindset is about closing the achievement gap, not about making low-achieving kids feel good in the moment but not learn in the long run.”

Teachers need not always say that a given student is the best. It is significant to give critical feedback to the students as well. This will aid in creating a classroom where the students love to take challenges, try out several new strategies as well as acknowledge the mistakes.

  • Set Up Micro Goals

There are several students who shudder when you give them huge challenges. The very thought of countering a huge goal gives them cold feet.
You can give students small goals to attain at a given point of time. For example, avoid asking the students to complete the whole chapter in a day. Set a small goal like covering a portion of it at a given point of time. This will allow them to complete the goal on time thereby giving a significant boost to their confidence.

Small wins, when repeated over time encourage the development of growth mindset as well as increased confidence level.

Allow Children to Cooperate

We all know that team spirit helps a lot in shaping children. Did you know that activities that involve cooperation rather than be individualistic or competitive in nature has a significant role to play in the enhancement of growth mindset?

According to research, the students while working together learn better.

While working as a group, the students become more responsible and the option to work along with others make them significantly more confident as well. Moreover, when a group effort is involved, there are higher chances to meet with success as well. Once again, this is instrumental in helping children develop a growth mindset.

Try Out Varied Learning Strategies

There are several learning strategies today in Mathematics starting from app learning to learning through games and puzzles.

Remember that a learning strategy that works for one student may not always work for the rest of the students. Try out as many strategies as possible to boost the confidence level of students. This is the key to changing the fixed mindset of a student to a growth mindset.

Make sure to teach the students that inability to reach a goal is not a failure. On the contrary, it is a way where a new strategy is learned.

Remember that the students who believe that they would succeed in a given task will meet with success always. Help them to remain positive.

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Sid writes educational content periodically for Wizert and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got more than 5 years of experience in technical content framing, digital marketing, SEO and graphic designing.

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