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Improving education: 'Growth mindset' a way to keep students engaged

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17 2013 6:00 a.m. MDT

The education paradigm “growth mindset” essentially amounts to conditioning students to believe intelligence is something that can be improved — not a trait that’s locked in at birth.

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The education paradigm “growth mindset” essentially amounts to conditioning students to believe intelligence is something that can be improved — not a trait that’s locked in at birth.

“Three decades have passed since the Stanford University psychologist Carol S. Dweck and others first linked students' motivation to the way they perceived intelligence,” Sarah D. Sparks reported Tuesday for Education Week. “Students who believe intelligence or skill can be improved by effort and experimentation — what Ms. Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset’ — seek challenges, learn from mistakes, and keep faith in themselves in the face of failure.

“By contrast, those who believe intelligence and skill are traits you are born with — a ‘fixed mindset’ — can be discouraged by failure and reluctant to challenge themselves.”

Sparks’ article highlights three charter schools in New Orleans collectively known as the Collegiate Academies charter network. Per Education Week, some of the strategies those schools employ to foster growth mindset are banning the word “smart” from campus; publicly praising students for improvement and asking them to share with the class what they did to improve, and, instead of calling on the first student to raise her hand when the teacher asks a question, call on one of the students only after all of them are raising their hands.

Speaking last week to Salt Lake City television station KUTV about Canyons School District’s efforts to catalyze growth mindset, Canyons evidence-based learning director Hollie Pettersson said, “We encourage kids to try again and again to achieve goals. Achievement is not based on talent, but hard work.”

Email: jaskar@desnews.com

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