Monday, July 27, 2015


Title:                    Mindsets…
Byline:                 Fixed or growth!
Author:               Dorette Nysewander, EdD, “DrD”

Educators are sometimes perplexed with students and their levels of achievement. Behaviors related to this sentiment include: [1] the student who rejects the opportunity to attempt new or different tasks [2] the student’s inability to reflect on a current reading when there is no definitive answer, or [3] the student that has no fear and presses forward no matter the academic challenge. So why the differences in these behaviors? Author Carol Dweck provides an explanation in her book Mindset: A New Psychology of Success.

Dr. Dweck discusses to types of learners those with a fixed or positive mindset. The fixed mindset is believing that qualities of intelligence, personality and certain moral character are carved in stone and cannot be changed. Whereas, the growth mindset is believing that basic qualities are things that can be cultivated through efforts. Individuals change and grow through application and experience.

For a quick assessment read each statement on intelligence and identify what applies to you:
1.      Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t change very much.
2.      You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how intelligent you are.
3.      No matter how much intelligence you have you can always change it quite a bit.
4.      You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

By reading each statement which do agree with more? Did you lean more towards 1 and 2 or 3 and 4? Were you a mixture? As you have probably assessed 1 and 2 suggest a fixed mindset whereas 3 and 4 target a growth mindset. Sometimes is it does depend on the belief? For example try reading the same statements above and substitute the beliefs of artistic talent, sports ability and business skill for intelligence. Any difference?

In exploring mindsets further think through the educational experiences that you have had. Were you praised for intelligence and ability or praised for your efforts? Comments from parents, teachers or coaches could be “You learned so quickly”! “You’re so smart”! You’re so brilliant you got an A without even studying!” These messages of praise are sincere and genuine however the impact on the student can have these results. “If I don’t learn something quickly, I‘m not smart”! I’d better quit studying or they won’t think I’m brilliant.  

Some of the best professors I have had always praised effort. One particularly would say “I will take a hard C performance over an easy A every time”! What he didn’t convey was that the student giving their best C effort was working through their level of ability towards a growth mindset and this should be praised. As a reflection on accomplishments from education to leadership some President’s, innovators, authors, and artists have all given their best C effort in school and look at the impact each has had on our society.

Take the full assessment or read this book. You might find other techniques and tools to use with students or answers to perplexing behaviors.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.

Google. (2015). Clip art. Retrieved from



Frank Sit said...

Well, this is my first visit to your blog! But I admire the precious time and effort you put into it, especially into interesting articles you share here!


Dorette Nysewander said...

Thank you for your comments Frank! Hope you will join in more often. All the best, DrD

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