Fixed Vs Growth: the Two Basic Mindsets that Shape our Lives

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Updated: May 16, 2022
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People and experts across the educational field have thought of and experimented with many ways of helping students do well in school. There have been theories discovered that can help and inspire students to work harder on achieving their goals and dreams. A theory that has been identified by Carol Dweck is fixed and growth mindset. With either of these mindsets, they shape our views on different opportunities that come into our lives. When students have a fixed mindset, which is the idea when their skills are shaped but when they see challenges, they are too complex for them.

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That makes them think that they are going to fail. When students have a growth mindset, they see that their skills can be improved and to improve them they would have to face challenges. By learning new things by their challenges, they would be getting smarter. In Christine Gross-Loh’s interview with psychologist at Stanford University Carol Dweck, Dweck (2016) mentions, “Her findings brought the concepts of ‘fixed’ and ‘growth’ mindset to the fore for educators and parents, informing the implementation of her ideas among teachers–and even companies–across the country” cited in Gross-Loh 2016. With educators and companies knowing about a fixed and growth mindset, it can help them choose the best candidates and how to encourage those with a fixed mindset.

Dweck has another mindset, which is referred to as ‘false growth mindset.’ Which means that there is a misinterpretation of an idea’s main point. With growth mindset leading educators to believe it is easier than it actually is. It is only about putting out effort or that an educator can use growth mindset by just telling students to do their best. For a teacher to promote a growth mindset, they could praise a student for doing their best on a test even when they failed. With a student hearing that from a teacher, it will encourage a growth mindset. When Dweck was teaching at a graduate school she was intrigued in why some students dwindle away from challenges and back out when they face them. While there are others that walk into challenges and become more adapted to it. Then she and her graduate students realized something, a student’s mindset is the base of whether they liked challenges or faced failure.

The fixed and growth mindset theory can help students all the way through their years in school. In the article, Does Mindset Intervention Predict Students’ Daily Experience in Classrooms? A Comparison of Seventh and Ninth Graders’ Trajectories by Jennifer A. Schmidt, Lee Shumow and Hayal Z. Kackar-Cam. They write about an experimental study where they investigated a science classroom and looked for growth mindset in students. The students reported back with evaluations about different things in the classroom. “In contrast, 9th graders in the mindset intervention reported increased control and interest, and maintained constant levels in skill and learning. Similar effects were not observed among 7th graders” (Schmidt, Shumow & Kackar-Cam 2017). From this research they are able to figure out the development from each mindset. Many interventions have been refined to help students believe in their given intelligence. Interventions have been fortunate at inspiring students towards a growth mindset, and toward a level of achievement and persistence. Growth mindset interventions impact results easily because they form the way that the students connected with the content. The mindset interventions developed the way of the students interactions comfortably. It is made from the studies that apply surveys in which the students reported their beliefs about their achievements, goals, or their values of effort. There have also been other studies that have tried to determine the way students interact with intellectual problems, by observing the students’ choices and mannerisms. “Over the past two decades, Dweck has argued that there are individual differences in the degree to which children and adults view ability as fixed or as incremental and expandable” (Schmidt, Shumow & Kackar-Cam 2017). There are differences between the way children and adults view their abilities to face challenges leading to a fixed mindset. This theory has been said to help students equally.

In the article The Effect of Mindset on Students’ Desire to work for Big Four Accounting Firms and on Academic Performance by Yuebing Liu, Michael N Robinson and Hui Xu states just that. In their study they explore the relationships between students’ mindset and work on an accounting exam along with their ambition to work for an accounting firm. They find that students with growth mindsets did better on the exam than those with a fixed mindset. Students that had a growth mindset were placed higher on working for the frim than the ones with a fixed mindset. “In summary, this study suggests that mindset plays an important role in students’ aspiration to work for a Big Four firm, but such aspiration does not necessarily translate to better exam performance” (Liu, Robinson & Xu 2018). With a growth mindset, students are able to get themselves to be a higher priority to be part of a large accounting firm, while those with a fixed mindset don’t and need to work harder to get there. An experience where I had growth mindset was when I took the placement test before school started. With the placement test it determined what classes I needed to take. When I finished the test, it put me into English 091, Reading 100 and Math 05 classes. After looking at my scores, I agreed with my placings. I knew that by taking these classes, they will be helping me get farther in my education. They will also be helping me to prepare for the classes that go to my degree. All in all a fixed and growth mindset can take students anywhere. With a growth mindset you have such a wide horizon of many things. It can get you where you want to go in your life and future. Students are able to face challenges because they know by conquering these challenges, they are learning new knowledge along the way. With their new knowledge they are able to take that with them and may need to use it somewhere. With the fixed mindset, they are just in need of a little push of encouragement or motivation to get them going in the right direction.

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Fixed vs Growth: The two basic mindsets that shape our lives. (2019, Feb 28). Retrieved from