Research has shown that there is a difference in effort and achievement between children who believe they are born with fixed intelligence, skills and talents, and their peers who believe they can grow through more experience and practice. According to Stanford University professor Carol Dweck, who invented the concept of "growth mindsets", this kind of reasoning is not only important for students but applies to their teachers as well.

Carol Dweck pointed to a new study at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, which measured the academic mindsets of 150 college instructors in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and the performance of about 15,000 of their students. The students taught by fixed-mindset teachers reported being less motivated than the students taught by growth-mindset teachers. Moreover, students of all ethnicities were doing better with growth mindsets instructors.

The Stanford professor has a few basic assignments to get students to analyze their own mindsets:

  1. Identify the contexts that tend to trigger a fixed mindset.

  2. Do something that is "outrageously growth mindset", like a challenging project outside your comfort zone.

  3. Challenge another student's mindset.

  4. Write a letter from yourself, in 20 years, listing the most important things you have learned.

Picture: Student with a lesson-book, by Jean-Baptiste Greuze (Wikimedia Commons, w/Effects)