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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Growth Mindset and Unlimited Learning Potential

Today’s blog post is courtesy of Betsy Stam, Faculty in the Medical Transcription Department. She wrote this for one of her classes in Medical Transcription 170 this quarter. 


Last week, I had a student talk to me about exercising their mind and learning again – this is so, so timely and relevant.  Just as I was enthusiastic about sharing Emilie Wapnick’s concept of being a multipotentialite, I’m even more excited about sharing Carol Dweck and the concept of a growth mindset.  As she says: “My work bridges developmental psychology, social psychology, and personality psychology, and examines the self-conceptions (or mindsets) people use to structure the self and guide their behavior. My research looks at the origins of these mindsets, their role in motivation and self-regulation, and their impact on achievement and interpersonal processes."

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.


I want to share more.  How Mindset Affects Success  has a great quote, “Benjamin Barber, an eminent sociologist, once said, ‘I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures... I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.’”

The fixed mindset creates an internal monologue that is focused on judging: “This means I’m a loser.” “This means I’m a better person than they are.” “This means I’m a bad husband.” “This means my partner is selfish.”

People with a growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Certainly they’re sensitive to positive and negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action: What can I learn from this? How can I improve?

This article, Independent School Magazine:  You Can Grow Your Intelligence, points out that new research shows that the brain is more like a muscle — it changes and gets stronger when you use it. And scientists have been able to show just how the brain grows and gets stronger when you learn.  Reading about this in Mindset changed how I thought about learning.  You are NOT LIMITED IN WHAT YOU ARE ABLE TO LEARN!!!! While some of the growth mindset literature feels to me as though it’s written for a younger audience and for teaching at lower levels, the concept is basic and applies to us all.

The physics department here at EvCC posted a single handout (with the content of that article) about growth mindset and asked students to read it and reflect on the concept that their ability to learn is not limited, no matter how difficult the material studied.  Just with that idea in the background, scores were markedly improved (with data to document this) over the course of the quarter.  They now include this every quarter.
I want you all to go forward as you start to learn content that will be challenging that it’s okay that this does not come easily – you’ve got this.  It will be hard work, but with the ongoing conversation that we recognize this is hard but you can learn this, you will be in a position to really embrace your potential to continually expand your knowledge and your skills.

Here is one of the more dynamic videos I found about growth mindset:
The Power of Belief - Mindset and Success: Eduardo Briceno at TEDxManhattanBeach



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