Can a growth mindset set your teen up to succeed?
OK let’s start with the question what is a growth mindset? A growth mindset is the belief that talents, abilities and intelligence is not fixed, that these things can grow and develop. It is thought that people who succeed in school have this belief ingrained in them from home or school. If a child without a growth mindset is told they’re stupid, directly or indirectly, then they give up at school, because in their world view their destiny at school Is already set. But a child with a growth mindset who is told they’re stupid, directly or indirectly, doesn’t take it as a foregone conclusion to their future, and keep trying to improve.
Numerous previous studies have shown that interventions to instil a growth mindset in a child has real word results by improving grades and having better mental health (Schleider and Weisz, September 2017)
A new study has now found that the growth mindset brings greater befits to some students than others (Dweck et al, under revision, March 2018). This large and rigorous US study looked at 14-15 year olds, given 2 growth mindset videos, with controls seeing unrelated videos. The effect was seen in the grades of the experimental group who were also less likely to fall below the ‘poor performance threshold’. In addition, they found struggling students improved more than the students who weren’t struggling. Students in high performing schools did not get the grade boost of students in low performing schools, but they did opt to take more challenging courses In the following term!
So if your teen is struggling at school, try doing what the researcher’s did in these studies: reminding teens that with effort they can develop new skills and become more intelligent. The results might surprise you.