3 Tips for teachers for promoting a growth mindset

Dave Paunesku, former student of Carol Dweck, is now the director of PERTS, an applied research center at Stanford University. Among other things, he was involved in large-scale research at the Khan Academy. Below I describe three simple tips from Dave Paunesku on how to show a growth mindset to your students and support them in developing a growth mindset themselves.

Benefits of a growth mindset for students

Having a growth mindset is a great advantage for students, especially when the material becomes more difficult and the requirements and expectations become different and higher. In such situations, a growth mindset benefits the interest and engagement of students, as well as performance and a sense of security (read more).

The important role of the teacher

Developing and maintaining a growth mindset is much easier for students if the environment supports this. The teacher can, of course, play a very important role in the development of a growth mindset in students in three ways:

  1. Inducing a growth mindset: think, for example, of giving process compliments, using the not-yet formulation, asking about previous successes and normalizing errors.
  2. Do not induce a fixed mindset: do not compliment on intelligence, avoid stereotypes, avoid comparing students and using comforting remarks such as: "not everyone can be equally good at this." 
  3. Model a growth mindset: Below are some suggestions on how to do that.

Set the example through your own growth mindset

In a recent video, Dave Paunesku gives some practical recommendations on how teachers can model a growth mindset in students by setting a good example themselves. Here's the video:

Here are, in a nutshell, his tips:

  1. Communicate to all students that you expect them to be successful and tell them you are there to support them in this
  2. Focus on the process of learning and what strategies they can use. This helps students, even if they are not yet at the desired level, to see that they are making progress step by step
  3. Talk about how you learn and deal with your own mistakes. You can even consciously make a mistake now and then and then show how you deal with your mistake. If a student points out your mistake, you can thank the student and invite the class to learn how to fix the mistake. This will help create a context in which making mistakes is seen as normal, safe and useful.