Stanford University psychologist, Carol Dweck (along with her students and colleagues) has shown, over many years of research, the importance of a “growth mindset” on the behavior and potential success of children, high-school students, college students, athletes, business executives, etc. In her book, Mindset: The new psychology of success (2006), she clearly distinguishes between the fixed mindset – the belief that your abilities and strengths are innate and unchangeable – and the growth mindset – the belief that your abilities and strengths are cultivated through your efforts. This difference in mindset is associated with how we face challenges and how we approach new tasks. The growth mindset is associated with a passion for learning and for moving beyond disappointment. For an individual with a growth mindset, failure provides an opportunity for learning while the same failure might be interpreted by someone with a fixed mindset as indicative of a lack of talent and/or ability.
WCU is devoted to cultivating a growth mindset among all students, faculty, staff, and administrators. We encourage life-long learning among all community members and such continuous learning requires the development and application of the growth mindset. Across campus, we engage students and faculty in open discussions about what a growth mindset means in terms of both classroom and out-of-classroom learning. We address questions such as: What faculty behaviors encourage the development of a growth mindset in students? What student behaviors indicate a growth mindset? What might we do across campus to help make the growth mindset the new norm for all members of the WCU community as they approach tough courses, personal challenges, etc.?
To read Carol Dweck’s book, access an electronic version through the university library. Or, check out a print copy from the university library: Call # 153.8 D84 - WCU Reserve Desk Collection, 2nd Floor.
View a brief introduction with this powerpoint on the growth mindset concept . To see a list of some discussion questions and growth mindset practices, see the resources at the bottom of this page.
For a brief assessment of your own mindset, visit Mindset Works.
To learn even more about the growth mindset and about some growth mindset interventions, watch the below video resources.
For important research results and interventions on Growth Mindset:
- Mindset Works
- David Yeager’s (UT, Austin) Adolescent Development Research Lab web-page
- College Transition Collaborative
- Mindset Scholars Network
- Stanford SPARQ, Social Psychological Answers to Real-World Questions
- Growth Mindset images
- Developing a Growth Mindset: The Secret to Improving your Grades
- Mindset Discussion Topics & Tips