Science teachers know that metals are malleable: that is, they can change in shape. Artists who work with clay know how malleable it is: shapeable, stretchable, and changeable. Cognitive scientists know that intelligence, or the ability to learn, is malleable, too.
Now, decades of educational neuroscience research proves that when students become aware that their intelligence is malleable, their motivation to learn soars. But when they believe their intelligence or abilities are “fixed” by nature, their motivation may plummet at the first sign of a learning challenge.
Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, researcher, and author, calls these two very different outlooks on learning the growth mind-set and the fixed mind-set, respectively. According to Dweck, these mind-sets have a profound impact on students’ success—in the classroom and beyond.
If you have a fixed mind-set, you believe that we are each born with fixed intelligence and abilities and that our personal efforts have relatively little impact on those abilities. However, if you possess a growth mind-set, you believe that our intelligence and abilities can grow and improve over time through personal effort and perseverance.
In short, students benefit from knowing they can learn. Students with a growth mind-set have higher motivation to seek out challenges and learn from mistakes. They view a rigorous curriculum as an exciting and energizing challenge that can lead to success. They understand that, just as people get stronger and more agile by training and working out physically, working out the brain can increase ...