Earlier this year in the US, the White House issued a statement on their website saying that enhancing methods for measuring students’ mindsets should be a key focus in future educational research.
This signals a shift away from the traditional approach of purely assessing students based on their grades, or improvements in grades.
The White House Administration’s Office or Science & Technology Policy is particularly interested in exploring the work of Carol Dweck in which she describes two mindsets; the fixed and the growth.
The Fixed mindset in which individuals believe their talents and intellect are fixed. They are either good at mathematics or they aren’t.
The Growth mindset in which individuals believe all talents and intelligence can be enhanced through hard work. Those with a growth mindset see setbacks as opportunities to learn and encourage feedback to be critical in order to identify areas for improvement.
Most significantly those with a growth mindset are typically not focused on grades or outcomes – but achieve well anyway, whereas those with a fixed mindset may obsess over grades and outcomes and struggle to cope when things don’t turn out the way they hope.
Too many people in education think that trying hard and having a growth mindset are synonymous and that Dweck has merely coined a new jargon.
But it is more than that. By understanding growth mindsets and the environment in which they flourish schools can look to address everything from their wall displays to their language, from their assessment tasks to their reporting system.
Hopefully the research will focus as much on how to cultivate a growth mindset as it will on how to test whether students possess one.
Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, consultant, and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminars. He is the co-developer of Happy Schools and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler