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.

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915 thoughts on “Step 3 B: The Effort Effect

  1. MSoto says:

    “They key 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. Learning will take time and dedication, if they fail along their academic journey is okay, they must learn from that experience and grow. ” As educators we must reassure our students that they are capable of academic success. That learning is an ability that they must develop with effort and dedication. A fixed mindset is an obstacle that prevents everyone from learning and enriching their intellect. Let’s all be growth mind-set learners and try to learn something new, something that we have wished to learn, but thought that we could not do.

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  2. Hernesto Meza says:

    “Study skills and learning skills are inert until they’re powered by an active ingredient,” Dweck explains. Students may know how to study, but won’t want to if they believe their efforts are futile. “If you target that belief, you can see more benefit than you have any reason to hope for.”

    This quote really resonated with me because it truly shows us that our skills can lay dormant until they are activated, however this activation is something that must really move me in order to put those skills into practice. Many times as educators we see students who are unmotivated and seem not to care. In my experience, however, I have realized that when you spark a students mind in the right way they tend to show you that they can make it happen. I know that this puts a lot on teachers, however I want to make it clear that I do not blame teachers for this, I think more than anything I blame the educational system and its desire to sometimes treat all students the same when we all know that what they need is different. By saying this I also want to note about the power that we as teachers have to extremely empower students in their idea that they can grow skills and that their intelligence is not fixed.

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  3. In the “Effort Effect,” the author points out at the end of the article that Carol Dweck, in her rehearse,”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.” This resonates with me is because it adds insight to students who tend to be judgemental of others are really, perhaps, unable to get past believing they, when they mess up, can be forgiven, learn, and grow.

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  4. Mark LInley says:

    The central question of the article can be stated something like this: Why do some talented people “achieve their potential while equally talented don’t”? And further, why do some less talented people achieve success beyond that achieved by people who started out with more talent? It appears that these questions can be answered by way of inquiries into mindsets and belief systems: people persevere if they believe that their efforts will yield results and furthermore if they believe that failure is an opportunity to learn. People who believe that their efforts are futile tend to give up easily, quit, or not begin to try at all. The former have a mindset of growth, and the later a fixed mindset. The former believe that ability is to be developed, while the later believe that ability is performance based. The former are not afraid of failure, but view failure as opportunity; whereas the later believe “performance is paramount and want to look smart…. For them each task is a challenge to their self image.” Carol Dweck, an expert in this field of psychology, claims that in fact these mindsets are not set for life but can be worked on and changed. Intelligence can be exercised and improved. So… the question remains… How do we lead our students to change their mindsets?

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  5. D. Gonzalez says:

    As stated in the article, “…if we hold a fixed mind‐set, we’re bound not to reach as high as we might.” I like to hold my students accountable for what I know they are capable of doing and achieving regardless of their learning abilities. I hold them to high expectations, because I know that effort goes a long way. As long as they are truly trying their best, I know they can learn.

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  6. Harmony4681 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.” This quote resonates with me because I believe this is the tone or climate that we want to create for our students if we want them to succeed in school. It doesn’t matter if a teacher has a rich-print environment or the best lesson plans in world if you don’t encourage your students develop learning goals and to take risks, even if they fail. What matters is that your students know what their aiming for by setting goals for themselves that are meaningful to them and that we believe our students are capable of learning at their own pace. This often becomes difficult to do because we get pressured for our students to do well on state tests at the district and state level. Teachers worth is often determined by how well our students perform on state test. I wish there was a way to measure how much mindset characteristics are taught to our students and give it some worth. Do we see evidence of student perseverance? Do we see evidence of students overcoming challenges? Sadly, this is not the case. One day, I hope more teachers will take a stand for their students and that more emphasis is placed on creating a belief that teaching our students to have a growth mindset is more valuable than scoring “exceeds standards” or “meets standards” on state tests.

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  7. Mor says:

    Every student is capable of learntng new things. It is up to them how much time and effort they are willing to invest in their learning .There are students that are not motivated to learn and are very easily discouraged in learning new things.

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  8. Harmony Carroll says:

    Tests, Dweck notes, are notoriously poor at measuring potential. Take a group of adults and ask them to draw a self‐portrait. Most Americans think of drawing as a gift they don’t have, and their portraits look no better than a child’s scribbles. But put them in a well‐designed class—as Betty Edwards, the author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, has—and the resulting portraits look so skilled it’s hard to believe they’re the work of the same “talentless” individuals. The belief that you can’t improve stunts achievement.

    This quote really made me think about what an impact a teacher can have on how a learner perceives success. It is important that teacher make their students understand that hard work and often failures are part of the path to success. Once a student understands that failure is a normal part of the learning process, they are much more willing to work hard at something until they are finally successful. Without this, students may just superficially “try” to learn something new, bailing at the first sign of challenge. Immediately declaring that they just don’t have the capacity to be successful.

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  9. Harmony072004 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. 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.” These paragraph reminded me of the video in the previous step when it compares a student with a fixed mindset with a student with a growth mindset. The student with a fixed mindset usually wants to look smart and are afraid of failure so they avoid engaging in challenging tasks. They are more interested in finding ways to shine. On the other hand, the student with a growth mindset take necessary risks and don’t worry about failure. They treat every failure as a chance to grow and learn form their mistakes.

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  10. I think the key idea from this article is to help students to set learning goals and for teachers to provide a safe place for mistakes and “do-overs.” It is important to teach our students to be problem solvers and that failure is information—if this doesn’t work try something else. Those students with learning goals, don’t worry about failure because they know that each mistake becomes a chance to learn. As educators we must nurture this development and teach our students to acquire a growth mindset.

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  11. Harmony mhc says:

    “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 shows that young children with a growth mindset will challenge themselves and put more effort into learning.

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  12. Harmony Figueroa says:

    Students can learn and adapt to make major progress in their learning, but unfortunately many students lack the motivation to grow. so often, students get discouraged or lose motivation. This is often not nurtured in our students.

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  13. Mich says:

    One quote that stood out to me about Carol Dweck’s experiments with children was the statement, “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.’” This quote demonstrates that the way failure is perceived and the perception of it can determine how a person approaches a challenge or a failure. If people see failure as information and not a judgement upon themselves, then they will approach failure more positively.

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  14. MrE says:

    A persons mindset is probably a big determiner of one’s success. It was interesting to read that students whose goal was to perform, are interested in “looking” smart even if they learn nothing. Students who had learning goals, “take necessary risks and don’t worry about failure because each mistake becomes a chance to learn.” I found this important because as teachers, our goal should be for all children to learn. If a teacher has a fixed mindset, it could have very negative consequences to his/her students success in and out of the classroom. As teachers, we need to find ways to help students develop a growth mindset and then find ways to foster that growth mindset.

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  15. msmartinez says:

    In the article, “The Effort Effect” Dweck states that people who believe in innate ability and those who believe that nothing good comes without effort is logical. Dweck, also adds that although people with a fixed mindset may also think that effort is not necessary isn’t entirely irrational. She gives examples such as a student who finishes a problem set in ten minutes is indeed better at math than someone who takes four hours. What resonated with me was when she states, “The fallacy comes when people generalize it to the belief that effort on any task, even very hard ones, implies low ability.” Knowing that effort is characterized as a growth mindset, I will celebrate effort more than ever with my students.

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  16. Marquez Randy says:

    “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.’” I think this statement defines the difference between a growth and a fixed mindset. Based on Dweck’s findings, people with growth mindsets are interested in challenging themselves, learning from their mistakes and taking risks to further their knowledge. People with fixed mindsets don’t believe they can change or evolve regardless of their efforts.

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  17. armando sanchez says:

    The article mentioned self-portraits with adults. We fail to make a great one simply because we haven’t been instructed/taught how. However, if the proper education/skills are obtained, so do our skills when drawing said portrait. The same is applied by students, they simply say “I can’t” or ” I don’t know how” and don’t even attempt to put the effort forth. As mentioned many times before, in order to learn, one must fail. The article also stated, “They (kindergartners) understand that spilling juice or
    throwing toys, for example, doesn’t damn a kid as bad, so long as the child cleans up and resolves to do better next time.” Essentially, isnt that what school is about? Making mistakes and learning from them to do better next time. If that never happens, it becomes difficult to learn when something never happened.

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  18. Catherine says:

    “Persistence in the face of failure” was a phrase that resonated with me. I think it’s important that students keep trying, even if it takes time to succeed in solving a problem. I’m thinking mostly of math here. I usually ask students to look critically at a problem they did not solve correctly and I ask if there is anyone who would like to share whatever error they made in attempting to solve the problem. I think it’s good for the individual student who did not solve the problem correctly and good for the class to see and hear that even “good” students make mistakes and we can all learn from our mistakes.

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  19. Rachel says:

    Dweck’s attribution theory focused on “the difference between the helpless response and its opposite—the determination to master new things and surmount challenges—lay in people’s beliefs about why they had failed. People who attributed their failures to lack of ability, Dweck thought, would become discouraged even in areas where they were capable. Those who thought they simply hadn’t tried hard enough, on the other hand, would be fueled by setbacks (1).” This is important because children who learn how to make mistakes and learn how to problem solve don’t see failure. The children who just want the right answer label “failure” as a permeant label and lack the motivation to learn. As a special education teacher, I see my students in high school use resources and skills more to accommodate their disabilities and this makes them stronger, when compared to a straight A student who has not faced challenges. In high school, I see them approach a lot of tasks with the mindset that they will figure something out or complete a difficult task. The “failure” part is not processing in their mind. The students who have challenges with stress from applying to college tend to be discouraged by the fear of failing.

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  20. Lin says:

    “These days, she’s sought out wherever motivation and achievement matter, from education and parenting to business management and personal development” We always want to say effort makes a huge difference. If we keep trying and practice, we will eventually succeed.

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  21. Lyda Lara says:

    Students who probably, under personal, peer or parental pressure, want to look smart only engage in activities that they feel sure will give them the rush of attention, while there is no acknowledgment of any learning on the process. Other students that have set up for themselves or have been assisted by the system have no problem at making mistakes and learning from the process.

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  22. Katheryne Martinez says:

    “Those with a fixed mind‐set about emotions were less able to manage theirs, and by the end of freshman year, they’d shown poorer social and emotional adjustment than their growth‐minded counterparts.”
    The world we live in is in constant change. We are in constant change. We never wake up being the same person as the day before. Once we accept the constant change that we experience, it will be easier to manage our emotions.

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  23. Veronica Lopez says:

    The statement that resonated with me was that of the “soccer player who scores effortlessly probably is more talented than someone who’s always practicing”. Many people think that working hard or practicing is a sign of weakness rather than strength and commitment.

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  24. Helen Cook says:

    Cite one phrase, sentence, or chunk of text that resonated with you and discuss why.

    “Culture can play a large role in shaping our beliefs, Dweck says. A college physics teacher recently wrote to Dweck that in India, where she was educated, there was no notion that you had to be a genius or even particularly smart to learn physics. “The assumption was that everyone could do it, and, for the most part, they did.” But what if you’re raised with a fixed mind‐set about physics—or foreign languages or music? Not to worry: Dweck has shown that you can change the mind‐set itself”. This means that many students have realistically grown through the harder challenges than others, which relatively compares others as the “more advantageous” in whatever the skills and learning may be. I think may immigrant and students with special needs can relate to such challenges, because the culture firstly comes from the environment that all of us do not have any control over. This brings empathy and equity for us all in our classrooms.

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  25. Elena Macias says:

    “Culture can play a large role in shaping our beliefs… The assumption was that everyone could do it, and, for the most part, they did.”

    This section resonated with me the most because it reminded me of some PD’s where we’re learning new strategies to use in the classroom and there’s always that teacher (or a few) who have a fixed mindset that our kiddos just wont get it. Subconsciously we’re the cause on why our students lack that intrinsic motivation to put that extra effort on the challenges they face in the classroom. Sometimes society has already put the cap on how much they’ll achieve. We’ll never bridge the gap if we’re the ones placing caps on our students’ capabilities. As the modifiers in our classrooms, we need to cultivate a classroom culture that embraces failures as opportunities to grow.

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  26. Lorena says:

    A very thoughtful article. Mind-set is probably the most important influence of success. It will become the over riding necessity in education at all levels if we wish to service the new age. We should be moving away from traditional educational practices towards a just in time learning and self teaching philosophy. Mind- set and personal belief is of primordial importance of course.

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  27. Mark Kavanagh says:

    I laughed out loud at an expression I had never heard: “rank and yank.” The idea is that many organizations don’t have a growth mindset so instead of building capacity within their human capital, they punish failure by exclusion. This connects to an article from Shift A that described how the use of a curve at a competitive school tended to turn successful students into “failures” over time, causing many to leave the school. And as my colleagues have touched on above, high stakes tests often amount to gigantic rank and yank industries. I also like the point that the fixed mind is categorical, and takes an all or nothing approach even interpersonal matters. As the piece points out, this has the effect of causing problems to fester, rather than being addressed.

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  28. Harmony123 says:

    I find this article interesting because before I became a teacher I did believe in the fixed mindset belief. I felt that as mentioned in the article ability “was something that was inherent.” I was not paying attention to the fact that as I dedicated those many of hours reading and studying to get A’s in my college courses I was developing my ability to succeed. Whether inherent or developed what is important is to motivate the students to set goals and to never give up on themselves.

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  29. Caridad Tam says:

    Culture can play a large role in shaping our beliefs, Dweck says. A college physics teacher recently wrote to Dweck that in India, where she was educated, there was no notion that you had to be a genius or even particularly smart to learn physics. “The assumption was that everyone could do it, and, for the most part, they did.” But what if you’re raised with a fixed mind‐set about physics—or foreign languages or music? Not to worry: Dweck has shown that you can change the mind‐set itself.

    I can relate to the above paragraph because in school, I always hear from students saying, “he is Asian that is why he is smart in Math.” In reality, not all Asians are smart in Math, its just part of their culture to be good in school. It is in their culture to obey and learn what is to be taught in school. It is in their culture to do home work with parent assistance. Parents monitor their child’s performance in school. It is also a part of their culture to have pride if their children are excelling in school. There is no difference to other culture if parents watch and guide their child/children to be kind, nice, polite and respectful. Most of my students who have these qualities have growth mind set.

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  30. J Johnson says:

    People can learn and adopt to make major strides in learning, but that is were students lacking the ability to grow. The most of the students get discourage even in areas that are good at. The effort is not there so we as educators have to some how get deep in the students minds to help them think bigger, outside the box. other than that the students get labeled and that ads more work on the teacher.

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  31. Julia Bugyik says:

    “What makes a really capable child give up in the face of failure, where other children may be motivated by the failure?’” This really resonated with me because I see it in my classroom on a daily basis- even when we review work in class- some students will sit there and not even bother to correct wrong answers to correct ones to learn from their mistakes- while others will revise- review- ask for more practice and learn from their mistakes to not repeat them and to improve.

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  32. Yesenia Medrano says:

    “They key 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.” In order to have more successful and confident students we need to change students thinking from a fixed mind-set to growth mind-set.

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  33. Ron says:

    In the article “The Effort Effect” discusses the fixed versus growth mind set. The part that resonated with me was the idea posed by Carol Dweck where Dweck wondered how humans coped with that. “I asked, ‘What makes a really capable child give up in the face of failure, where other children may be motivated by the failure?’” I thought it was interesting that for some ability meant that they did not need to put in the effort to be good at something, they took it as a for granted a faltered when their performance tanked, where others with less ability saw failure as a challenge to achieving a learning goal.

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  34. Frank Aguilar says:

    Many times we try to let our students know that “they are” a certain way and that they have to conduct themselves as such, we do say things like, “you’re good because you’re smart”, “you’re failing because you’re lazy”, “you’re passing classes because you complete all your work”, “You don’t understand because you’re not even trying”. Are we really helping them or hurting them? What should our approach be as we attempt to “get it right” with what we say and how we say it.

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  35. Lynn Marie Mierzejewski says:

    What resonated with me when reading this article was the term “learned helplessness.” I believe that it is paramount that children learn to be independent and keep trying their best at the things that they want or need to accomplish. Of course, children should be supported, but as they get older and grow, the support given to them should slowly begin to fade so that they can learn how to take on more responsibility and try new things or those which spark their interest. Children should be taught to explore the world around them in a healthy manner and to learn their potential. When children are taught “learned helplessness,” others do too much for them, which stifles them. They stop growing intellectually, behaviorally, functionally, and socially. In order to learn how to handle failure or to err in a healthy manner, children must be given the opportunity to be independent (which is age-appropriate, of course).

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  36. Mr. Salinas says:

    One quote that really grabbed my attention in this article was “Failure is information-we label it failure, but it’s more like, ‘This didn’t work, I’m a problem solver, I’ll try something else.” Many teachers, including myself sometimes forget to address our students in a different manner in regards our feedback. In order to change this fixed mindset, we has teachers could only control our classrooms and we need help from the corporate and business world that follow a “rank-and-yank” mode. One way that will be helpful in our classrooms is by addressing some of our motivational posters we have in our classroom, especially when students are taking exams which students anxiety kicks in.

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  37. Mr. L says:

    The combined statements that, “ability inspires self‐confidence” and “setbacks change everything” resonated strongly with me and reminded me of the article about Kershawn at Cal. Here was a student that had all the confidence in the world until he was rattled by not meeting his own expectations. How often are we sending students off to fail in college by telling them they’re smart and perpetuating a fixed mindset? I believe all too often. We condition our students to believe they have the natural ability only for that confidence to be shattered when they face their new peers at university. Where they were once a few smart kids among high school peers with a greater distribution of ability, they find themselves with a new set of classmates that were all themselves top performers at their respective high schools.

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  38. Lupe Jimenez says:

    In the article “The Effort Effect,” the chunk that resonated most with me was the part about how “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.” This chunk resonated most with me because I would like to know what this looks like. Can all students be trained to “keep going”? How do you teach a child to reflect on their errors and succeed?

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  39. Adriana Gomez says:

    I love this whole article, especially the quote that says “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.” This quote really says a lot about those that struggle to gain and those who struggle to preserve an image.

    I used to be part of the fixed mindset group, and let me tell you that I found too many disappointments and depressive things about it. The best thing about feeling like all is lost is realizing that nothing was a loss (not the status of being intelligent; not the stigma of not having to try for a grade…) those temporary loss-seeming cases were all just minor set-backs. And if we could get our students to realize this early in their academic careers, maybe our graduation rates at the universities will be a little less and our graduation rates, even at the high school level might be higher.

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  40. FT. Sandra says:

    “Changing mind‐sets is not like surgery,” she says. “You can’t simply remove the fixed mind‐set and replace it with the growth mind‐set.” To me this means that a growth min-set must be develop; as educators we must nurture this development at an early age.

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  41. Andres Reconco says:

    We tell ourselves stories about the many “whys” of our lives. We convince ourselves of truths that we’ve repeated ourselves many times over. Our students do this too. From educators and parents and friends they have received direct and indirect messages about the types of students they are and perhaps they’ve even been given perceived reasons for why they are this way (“you’re good because you’re smart”, “you’re failing because you’re lazy”, “you’re passing classes because you complete all your work”, “You don’t understand because you’re not even trying”). Because of this one phrase that stood out to me from this article is the following: “Dweck posited that the difference between the helpless response and its opposite—the determination to master new things and surmount challenges—lay in people’s beliefs about why they had failed”. The messages young people receive about why they are the academics that they are has shaped the way in which they respond to challenges. The truth here is that this is a narrative that must change if our students are to begin to believe themselves capable of attempting new things without the fear of reinforcing false (but perceived to be true) narratives about themselves.

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  42. FTRoberto says:

    In the article regarding Dweck’s research on growth mindset, the phrase that stood out to me was the fact that results were evident in students that had the growth mindset. It states, “Training students to adopt a growth mind‐set about intelligence had a catalytic effect on motivation and math grades;
    students in the control group showed no improvement despite all the other interventions.” By allowing students to focus on demonstrating skills and growth, it allowed them to be engaged and willing to take action towards their academics, rather than being scolded for doing something wrong.

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  43. Barbara L Politz says:

    ” 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”. The statement underscores the importance of ensuring that our students get a great start in school from the very beginning. The implications for early educators to instill in children a belief in themselves and a growth mindset is incredible. This is work we need at all levels. At the secondary level we are constantly battling the fixed mindset misconception that students have incorporated.

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  44. FT Lyn Almustafa says:

    The article goes through a variety of scenarios and situations that can affect effort for students to gain a Growth MindSet attitude. “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.”

    Questions and Important concept to consider:
    What is motivation?
    “What makes a child give up in the face of failure vs. children motivated by failure”?
    “Why it matters what attributions people make”
    Instead of labeling not understanding as “Failure”, label it as “This doesn’t work, I’m a problem solver, and I’ll try something else.”
    Taking risk vs going for the sure road
    “Test are notoriously poor at measuring potential”
    Culture shapes beliefs
    “Training students to adopt a growth mind-set about intelligence had a catalytic effect on motivation…”
    Make studying tangible or else “students will believe their efforts are futile”, regarding studying
    Growth miindset is being used at work places, not only in schools.

    These are just a few reasons why teachers need to incorporate a growth mindset attitude!

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  45. FT Deborah says:

    In the previous step I asked, ” How can we change an engrained belief?” After reading this passage “Changing mind‐sets is not like surgery,” she says. “You can’t simply remove the fixed mind‐set and replace it with the growth mind‐set.” The Rovers are starting their workshops with recent recruits—their youngest, most malleable players. (Faulkner realizes that players who’ve already earned millions from being “naturals” have little incentive to reshape their brains.) The team’s talent scouts will be asking about new players’ views on talent and training—not to screen out those with a fixed mind‐set, but to target them for special training.” I realize that changing a fixed mindset requires “special training.” Its as if we have to train our brains to think differently about learning even if we have a special talent.

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  46. B. Gonzalez says:

    The article by Marina Krakovsky, “The Effort Effect” basically follows around Carol Dweck and her research. This article is very insightful as it talks about Dweck’s experience with children who have been labeled underachievers might “learn helplessness,” thus rendering them to not try at all to succeed. Dweck’s hands on experience gives her a lot of credibility but the quote that resonated with me was by Jeffery Pfeffer a business professor who spoke on performance management. Pfeffer mentions that “He faults businesses for spending too much time in rank-and-yank mode, grading and evaluating people instead of developing their skills.” This made me thinks of how teachers are also evaluated and labeled as a “bad” teacher if they do not fit the mold of the evaluator, thus perpetuating the very system that we are trying to undo here. I believe that is for that reason that many teachers evaluate their students the way they do, because that is what they have learned from the powers that be. In addition, we can also look at high stakes exams where test scores directly reflect on the teachers effectivnesss, and then what the student gets labeled and the teacher suffers punitive consequences, all without either of the teacher nor the student receiving any training to develop their skills.

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