Step 3 B: The Effort Effect

The Effort Effect: This article highlights the work of Carol Dweck around growth and fixed mindsets.

After reading the article, use the comment section below to cite one phrase, sentence, or chunk of text that resonated with you and discuss why. Read through a sampling of responses from your colleagues to learn about how others think about fixed and growth mindsets.


994 thoughts on “Step 3 B: The Effort Effect

  1. Shane Riddle says:

    “Students for whom performance is paramount want to look smart even if it means not learning a thing in the process. For them, each task is a challenge to their self‐image, and each setback becomes a personal threat. So they pursue only activities at which they’re sure to shine—and avoid the sorts of experiences necessary to grow and flourish in any endeavor.”

    This is such an issue with freshman in my Algebra 1 class! They are so self-conscious, and making a mistake publicly isn’t a risk most are willing to take. I try to create a safe environment with multiple chances for success. Students are still reluctant to put themselves out there and take chances.


  2. Paytsar Sasunyan says:

    “difference lay in the kids’ goals. “The mastery‐oriented children are really hell‐bent on learning something,” Dweck says, and “learning goals” inspire a different chain of thoughts and behaviors than “performance goals”. I think that we, as teachers, assume that students have learning goals, and we measure their learning by assigning them grades & points. One thing that always amazes me is that most students have only performance goals — they want good grades/high points without putting in the effort necessary to attain those high marks. The article clarifies the psychology behind this illogical thinking: the desire to look good without putting in the effort because putting in effort implies that you are not smart or talented. We need to intentionally shift the focus from performance goals to learning goals, and reward effortful improvement rather than focusing on the “right answers”.


  3. Amparo Martin says:

    What resonates to me after reading this sentences from the article””The key, she found,
    isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.” is that, Maybe? there are some people out there who live by those kinds of absolutes. I’ve met very, very few of them. It can be of value to recognise the mindsets, perhaps, but I don’t believe the vast majority of us are solidly one way or the other – not even me – and I’m a fatalist. I do think it’s important not to simplify sometimes. Life is complicated. And hey – wouldn’t it be great if we could just think differently and then there’s food for everybody, and there are no more wars, and there aren’t 40 million displaced persons in refugee camps because of that, all illness is curable? and I could go on but you get the idea.

    Not meaning to rain on your parade, but there’s so very much to it.


  4. John says:

    “Students for whom performance is paramount want to look smart even if it means not learning in the process.” This is something I have witnessed much over the years. In physical education, we know that students who do not have the fundamental motor skills for a certain game or sport will do everything they can to “hide out” and avoid embarrassment. They become good a looking like they are involved,however, they are actually scared to death. This is why it is important to differentiate the learning experiences so that students can build from where they are at and gain the confidence to try new things.


  5. Nicole Niederdeppe says:

    “Many kids believe they’re invariably good or bad; other kids think they can get better at being good. Dweck has already found that preschoolers with this growth mind‐set feel okay about themselves after they’ve messed up and are less judgmental of others; they’re also more likely than kids with a fixed view of goodness to try to set things right and to learn from their mistakes.” This has many implications beyond grading toward restorative justice practices. If this mindset application goes all the way down to feelings of validity and worthwhileness (“goodness” and “badness”) even with preschool children, imagine the level of root a “fixed” mindset might have with a middle or high schooler who may have been told that they are a “bad” person due to their mistakes or characteristics. If we can change the mindset of individuals on this base level, then changing their approach to learning should be much easier. Anything can be taught and learned.


  6. N Strickland says:

    “British soccer culture held that star players are born, not made.” This is an interesting line. In Dweck’s book, she cites the kids where kids will play a game over and over again until they’re successful. But when it comes to school, they expect to be successful without failure. A fail in school all of a sudden shuts them down and they detach themselves from school. Why don’t they stop playing the video games once their avatar dies? Somewhere in childhood, kids get the false message that some kids are “naturals” and have certain gifts – and interpret it to not venture or put effort into the area that’s not their “gift.”


  7. Matthew Lee says:

    The quote “Failure is information—we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else.’” really resonated with me because I have always been someone who likes to figure things out. One of the reasons I enjoy Physics so much is because it provides a method of figuring out how the world works based on laws and theories that are based on recognizable patterns in nature. Whenever I encounter an obstacle or challenge, I try to persist as much as possible until I can find a solution, no matter how long it takes. I try to tell myself that I have an entirely growth mindset, I also know that I do tend to give up after a certain amount of time (frustration).


  8. Ellen Urciola says:

    I am very familiar with Carol Dweck’s work. In the article by Marina Krakovsky, “The Effort Effect”, “the one phrase that stands out is …the determination to master new things and surmount challenges-lay in people’s beliefs about why they failed.”
    This phrase from the article resonates with me because most people approach challenges with a fixed mindset. In part, due to the unintended feedback they receive from parents, friends, coaches, teachers, and themselves. Dweck posits when we praise young people on what they do, instead of praising their effort we unintentionally set them up to fail.


  9. Melinda says:

    To paraphrase Carol Dweck’s question, is ability inherent and need to be demonstrated or is it something that can be developed? I definitely agree with the idea that it is something that can be developed. I feel like we all may have things we do better than other things we do, but what we can do automatically and that we have to think about are not mutually exclusive of one another. I have a few more thoughts like the interrelationships connections. I would like to explore this further.


  10. Azniv Shahmelikian says:

    “Ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed” as fixed mindset or growth mindset. I like the use of word “ability” because my students understand and they could relate more than growth or fixed mindset. They all could easily relate to sport and when they are actually able to perform, after practice where they developed the skill or something they could do by inheritance.


  11. K. Navarrete says:

    “The key , she found, isn’t ability; its whether you look at the ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.” The limitations students are experiencing due to mindset often deprives them from excelling and experiencing new things. Student’s will often call themselves “dumb” because they face challenges and have not looked at those challenges as a way to better themselves.


  12. Gabriela says:

    Why do some people achieve their potential and why equally talented people do not? This is the 100 billion question. I see the typical student will pursue activities in which they will succeed and avoid the ones that will provide them growth. If students are moved to succeed in areas where they failed before they will change and try the activities that provide them with growth.


  13. Silvia A. Almaguer says:

    Students and human beings that believe they are what they are will give themselves no option for change or believing that their past failures will continue to be failures. They have no option.
    Those people that are taught failure is an avenue for growth, demonstrate that they can use failure to tweak past procedures for further growth.If they are confident they can fail and prevail, all challenges will become a puzzle to enjoy and embrace for the end which is success.
    You are what you Solve , Resolve and Achieve!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  14. Emmanuel DM says:

    The article was very interesting and made me curious to study more of her work, but the one sentence that caught my attention was “the person has to want to change.” As an educator I encounter many different students. I always said to friends who are not in the education field that I prefer to teach students who are high achiever than those who are “classified gifted.” For those who are high achievers the sky is the limit, I was able to entice them that if we can complete their subject level standards we can then move to a more difficult subject like Algebra 2 while they are still in middle school, The challenge was finding a way to motivate those “gifted” students who were not motivated to work on “difficult” topics. So the part of the sentence about “the person has to want to change” resonates with me, because how do I motivate our students to “want to change?”


  15. Agata Bronakowska says:

    “Through a series of exercises, the experimenters trained half the students to chalk up their errors to insufficient effort, and encouraged them to keep going. Those children learned to persist in the face of failure—and to succeed. The control group showed no improvement at all, continuing to fall apart quickly and to recover slowly. ” We need to teach students to like and take interest in challenge.


  16. lgoldberg says:

    I thought the quote about anyone can learn physics in India hit my core values. I agree, the material to be learn in this type of science setting can be learned by anyone who wants to learn it. If the gatekeepers have their way – only learners who have taken higher levels of math and science will ever have the opportunity to learn physics. That is sad – the cirruculum needs to be accessable to all. Growth over fix mind set.


  17. marilou Adra says:

    “You’ll reach new heights if you learn to embrace the occasional tumble.” I believe most students have a combination of growth mindset and fixed mindset because at one point everyone experience success from hard work. However, fixed mindset becomes prevalent on most times because there is not enough support from family, community and even school. Turning to fixed mindset becomes an excuse to avoid the occasional tumble.


  18. Aida says:

    “Young children may not always have beliefs about ability, but they do have ideas about goodness. Many kids believe they’re invariably good or bad; other kids think theycan get better at being good.” (Kravovsky, M.2007, p5) If at young age students can be taught to have a growth mindset, then, we would not have many students and/or adults with so many issues. The course of someone’s lives can be redirected with the appropriate training.


  19. Valencia says:

    One sentence that resonated with me is “The key, she found, isn’t ability; it’s whether you look at ability as something inherent that needs to be demonstrated or as something that can be developed.” It resonates with me because often time students will just say “I’m not good in math” and with that it is like if they have permission to fail and not even try. They need to know that ability can be developed.


  20. Shannon George says:

    One part of this article which resonated with me is, “What’s more, Dweck has shown that people can learn to adopt the latter belief and make dramatic strides in performance.” The latter belief that is referred to is that talent or ability is not inherent, but is gained through constant hard work. In other words, people can unlearn this idea that people are born with innate abilities and that that ability is what separates us. Many people have talents, and if people learn to adopt the belief that they can improve with sustained hard work, even throughout some failures, they will make not just improvement, but “dramatic strides” of improvement. This is something our students must also learn.


  21. Kevin says:

    “So they pursue only activities at which they’re sure to shine—and avoid the sorts of experiences necessary to grow and flourish in any endeavor.” This is what I see in the typical student. They want the easy way out and to find what’s “easy” for them. They’d rather not challenge themselves to grow as a student.


  22. jeff mcculty says:

    i have been working through this principal for years. I have found that with great effort you can move a student to success in a new area, they can begin to believe. That belief will change how they tackle the next piece


  23. Lynn Brown says:

    “Students with learning goals, on the other hand, take necessary risks and don’t worry about failure because each mistake becomes a chance to learn” (Krakovsky, M. 2007, p. 2). This makes sense to me. Students really need to know and understand their learning goal, and teachers can help them reach this goal with frequent formative assessments.


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