LEO1: Introducing Growth Mindset


Welcome to Growth Mindset part of the LeapEd course, the first step on your learning journey of 2018!

This course provides you with everything you need to help you explore the concept of the Growth Mindset. We are looking forward to embarking on this journey with you and hope that through this process you will see yourselves and your students in a new light.

You’ll learn what happens when students are taught and raised with the kind of mindset that limits them and leaves them vulnerable to discouragement, defensiveness, and indifference.

Then, we'll guide you to explore simple methods to develop the kind of mindset that not only benefits you, but also maximizes your student's ability to learn, grow, and thrive!

Enjoy the course!



Section 1: Introducing Growth Mindset

1.1: What is a 'Growth' Mindset?

Growth mindset is the idea that intelligence can be developed rather than it being set in stone. It is arguably the most popular psychological theory in education at the moment. 

It was launched into mainstream consciousness after a seminal growth mindset study almost 20 years ago and has since spawned many assemblies and school activities. It is arguably the most popular psychological theory in education at the moment. 

Over 30 years ago, Dr Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University became interested in students' attitudes about failure. 

Dweck noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. After studying the behavior of thousands of children, Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset (the belief that intelligence is fixed) and growth mindset (the belief that intelligence can grow) to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence.

In 1988, Dr. Dweck first presented a research-based model to show the impact of mindsets. She showed how a person’s mindset sets the stage for either performance goals or learning goals. A student with a performance goal might be worried about looking smart all the time, and avoid challenging work. On the other hand, a student with a learning goal will pursue interesting and challenging tasks in order to learn more. This model has had considerable impact on how we praise our students.

Dr. Dweck also found that people’s theories about their own intelligence had a significant impact on their motivation, effort, and approach to challenges. Those who believe their abilities can improve are more likely to embrace challenges and persist despite failure. This model of the fixed vs. growth mindset shows how cognitive, affective, and behavioral features are linked to one’s beliefs about the malleability of their intelligence.

Growth vs Fixed Mindset Beliefs

Now we know what it is we must also understand what it isn't

In the rush to embrace Growth Mindset as a method, the message has sometimes been misunderstood as “growth mindset is all about effort” or even “anyone can do anything” – neither of which is accurate or helpful to students. 

Having a growth mindset is about the belief that someone can learn and improve. To help shape students’ behaviours and mindsets, teachers should look to develop a consistent culture of high expectations and meaningful feedback.

In the next section we will look at why mindsets matter.

1.2: Why Mindsets Matter

Growth Mindset: Why Mindsets Matter

A mindset is simply a belief – a belief about yourself and your fundamental qualities.

Mindsets are important because they shape the way we view the world and can constrict or expand the way in which we engage in life.

Our mindsets are born from our life experiences. Irrespective of whether the experience is good or bad, a filter is formed that limits what our mind absorbs of subsequent situations. This is driven by protecting ourselves and wanting to feel secure in an uncertain world. Paradoxically, by avoiding making the same mistakes and being hurt we quite unintentionally miss opportunities. We can even miss out on greater things by being fixed on replicating previous success.

We are usually totally unaware of all this. Our mindsets are in the background. To engage more fully we need to bring our mindsets to the foreground. This requires a combination of specific experiences and reflection that enable us to become aware of and then shift our mindsets to ones that serve.

Video Exercise

Watch the video. Ask yourself the following questions and make notes here:

  • What are the reasons that people quit rather than keep trying to succeed?
  • Thinking about their attitude to failing, what do all successful people have in common?

1.3: What does having a “Growth or Fixed Mindset” actually mean?

Growth vs Fixed Mindset

Your mind is a force to be reckoned with. How you use it can either make you or break you. Believing in one thing can prevent you from reaching your full potential, while believing in another can push you toward becoming the person you’ve always wanted to be. It’s all a matter of perspective. 

A “fixed mindset,” according to Dweck, holds on to the belief that a person’s intelligence, character, and creativity are all static givens that they can change, and that the affirmation of that inherent intelligence is success. To carry on the sense of being smart or skilled in a fixed mindset, one must strive for success and avoid failure at all costs.

On the contrary, a “growth mindset” seeks challenge and believes that failure is not a proof of unintelligence but an encouraging springboard for growth and development. In her two decades of research, Dweck discovered that the view you choose to embrace for yourself deeply affects how you live your life, determining whether you become who you want to be and whether you achieve what you value.

The video below outlines the main differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

1.4: How Your Mindset Affects Your Academic Achievement

Dweck and her colleagues, in one seminal study, brought several 4th grade students into Columbia’s brain-wave lab to discover their brains behavior upon answering a set of difficult questions and receiving feedback. After answering a question they would have to wait a few seconds to discover if they answered correctly or incorrectly. A few seconds later the correct answer would appear. 

The differences between fixed and growth mindsets are below:

Fixed Mindset

Those with a fixed mindset showed interest only in hearing feedback that directly reflected on their existing ability, and they tuned out information that could help them learn and improve. They quickly clicked to the next question - not interested in hearing the right answer when they’d gotten a question wrong.

Brain Focus: Being right or wrong

Growth Mindset

Those with a growth mindset, were eager to absorb information that could increase their present knowledge and skill. This is to say that their main concern was to learn, not whether they managed to get the answers right. They waited for the correct answer so they could better understand where they went wrong.

Brain Focus: Finding the correct answer

In another study involving hundreds of adolescent students, Dweck and her colleagues gave each person ten moderately challenging problems out of a nonverbal IQ test, and then commended the student for his or her performance. Watch the video below to hear more.

After watching the video ask yourself the following question and make notes here:

  • Why would praising a students effort produce better results than praising their intelligence? 

1.5: Quiz: Test Your Own Mindset

Test Your Own Mindset

This Mindset Assessment is a quick diagnostic tool drawn from research-validated measures for people to use to assess their mindsets. It has been used in many studies to show how mindsets can change, and can be used by you and your students to identify areas in which you can work toward a growth mindset.

Sounds terrifying? Don't worry, its important that we understand ourselves in an attempt to better understand others. Besides, at the heart of Growth Mindset is the desire to improve ourselves by identifying and overcoming our weaknesses and moving towards success.

  • 1. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change it a good deal.
  • 2. You can learn new things, but you cannot really change your basic level of intelligence.
  • 3. I like my work best when it makes me think hard.
  • 4. I like my work best when I can do it really well without too much trouble.
  • 5. I like work that I'll learn from even if I make a lot of mistakes.
  • 6. I like my work best when I can do it perfectly without any mistakes.
  • 7. When something is hard, it just makes me want to work more on it, not less.
  • 8. To tell the truth, when I work hard, it makes me feel as though I'm not very smart.

Section 1: Summary


We hope you have found section 1 informative and inspiring. Now lets move on to section 2 where we will look at how positive mindset change can be introduced in your school.

Sounds terrifying? Don't worry, as educators its important that we understand ourselves in an attempt to better understand others. Besides, at the heart of Growth Mindset is the desire to improve ourselves by identifying and overcoming our weaknesses and moving towards success.

Section 2. Teaching Growth Mindset

2.1 Introducing Growth Mindset in your School

Introducing Growth Mindset in your School

When students first come to understand that learning can rewire the brain and increase their intelligence, they often become more interested in learning and less afraid to do things that might make them “look dumb.” In other words, they develop a growth mindset. Educators can help students develop a growth mindset by teaching them about the amazing properties of the brain. In the following sections, we suggest some ways to introduce students to growth mindset.

It's a science lesson, not brainwashing.

It can be tempting to explain what a growth mindset is and what a fixed mindset is and then simply tell students that they “should” have a growth mindset. That approach is sure to backfire—students won't accept a completely new way of thinking just because someone tells them to, nor should they! Present the scientific evidence and help students come to their own decisions. In other words, “show them, don't tell them.”

Growth mindset is about growth, not just about effort.

When people first learn about growth mindset, some think it means to believe that “you can succeed if you just try harder.” There's more to it than that. For students to have a growth mindset, they should understand that trying harder —and trying new strategies—not only helps them succeed at the current task but also helps them succeed in the future by strengthening their brain.

The animated video below explains the concept of Growth Mindset simply and clearly.

Teachers can foster the development of a growth mindset in students through: 

  • Teaching about the differences between a fixed and a growth mindset. 
  • Teaching about the brain, its malleability and how it creates new pathways and connections for learning.
  • Creating a supportive classroom environment where persistence, effort and mistakes are embraced, analysed and celebrated.
  • Setting learning goals with students and monitoring their progress.
  • Making growth mindset language a part of everyday teaching, not as an added ‘extra’ or something specific to certain subjects or themes.
  • Praising effort, struggle, persistence, choosing difficult tasks, learning, strategies, choices and improving.
  • Embracing a whole school approach to developing growth mindset language across all subjects. 
  • Participating in whole school activities that promote the benefits of developing a growth mindset.

Fostering Growth Mindset in School

Activity: Introducing Growth Mindset to Your Class

Task: Use the lesson plan below with your students. Students will answer opinion questions that will serve as an introduction to Growth Mindset. Once completed reflect on your experiences in your professional blog.

Growth Mindset Lesson Plan

2.2: Teachers Need a Growth Mindset Too - A Teachers Perspective

Teachers Need a Growth Mindset Too - A Teachers Perspective 

By Christina Gil


Pushing our students to adopt a growth mindset is an easy call. Adopting one ourselves is harder.

For a teacher, it’s pretty easy to focus on improving students—that’s our job, right? So when I learned about Carol Dweck’s theory of growth mindset, my first thought was about how I could get my students onboard with this idea. Then I realized that if I were to better my own craft, I would have to take on the challenge for myself as well.

I think that I succeed as a teacher because I’m willing to mess up often and mess up big time. And yet, I also take any excuse to avoid pushing myself to grow. Having a growth mindset doesn’t just mean learning about the theory and leaving it at that. It’s a constant process. Sometimes it’s difficult, often it’s a little painful, but it’s always worth the effort.

Below are the six tips that I use (constantly) to keep me in a growth mindset. 

Six Tips for Instilling a Growth Mindset in Yourself

2.3: Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff

Praise the Process, Not the Person

Keith Heggart , High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

The idea of mindsets has significant implications for education. One of the most important aspects relates to praise. According to Dweck, when we give praise to students (which we, as teachers often do, in order to build self-esteem and encourage students) for how clever they are, we might actually be encouraging them to develop a fixed mindset - which might limit their learning potential. 

On the other hand, if we praise students for the hard work and the process that they’ve engaged in, then that helps to develop a growth potential.

The idea of mindsets has significant implications for education. One of the most important aspects relates to praise. According to Dweck, when we give praise to students (which we, as teachers often do, in order to build self-esteem and encourage students) for how clever they are, we might actually be encouraging them to develop a fixed mindset - which might limit their learning potential. 

On the other hand, if we praise students for the hard work and the process that they’ve engaged in, then that helps to develop a growth potential.

We have to really send the right messages, that taking on a challenging task is what I admire. Sticking to something and trying many strategies, that’s what I admire. That struggling means you’re committed to something and are willing to work hard. Parents around the dinner table and teachers in the classroom should ask, ‘Who had a fabulous struggle today? (Morehead 2012)

This praise can have significant effects upon students: citing longtitudinal studies with Year 7 maths students, Dweck has shown how students with a growth mindset are far more likely to take on more challenging work and succeed at it than students with a fixed mindset - even if all other factors remain the same.

Dweck (and others) put this down to the development of self that takes place as different mindsets develop. With a fixed mindset, there are feelings of powerlessness and learned helplessness. This can lead to the development of a self-defeating identity, accompanied by toxic personal statements like ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘I’m not clever enough.’

On the other hand, a growth mindset amongst students is likely to encourage them to develop feelings of empowerment - students begin to see how they might take action to positively influence their community and their own learning. 


Print out a copy of the sheet below. Cross off the praises you use regularly. In your reflection journal make a note of why you used that particular praise and the different student reactions to it. 

2.4: 7 Growth Mindset School Implementation Tips

7 Tips to adopt a Growth Mindset at your school

2.2 QUIZ: Test Your Schools Mindset

Activity: Test Your Schools Mindset

For our final activity, the growth mindset experts at mindset works have designed a 20 question quiz to see where your school culture currently stands on growth mindset practice. 

Click on the mindset works logo below to get started:

What's my school mindset?


Section 2: Congratulations - end of course!



We hope you have enjoyed this short course from LeapEd Online. Over the coming months we will continue to bring you the very best online courses to help support your professional development. If there is a particular course or topic you think we should feature please get in touch. You can contact us at: [email protected] 

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Growth Mindset Links

Growth Mindset Teaching Resources

Growth Mindset Teaching Resources

Understanding Growth Mindset

Strategies for Addressing Mindsets

Growth Mindset Within Math

Giving Better Student Feedback

  • Embracing Failure: Building a Growth Mindset Through the Arts: Learn how educators at New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico teach students how to integrate critical feedback. (Edutopia, 2016)
  • Nurturing Intrinsic Motivation and Growth Mindset in Writing: Review tips from a high school English instructor about how to conduct better conferences with students; take a look at specific examples of process praise and feedback that can encourage autonomy, purpose, and choice. (Edutopia, 2014)
  • Praising the Process: Watch this video of a writing workshop from a first grade classroom to see how to use process praise to encourage a growth mindset. (Teaching Channel, 2015)
  • Using Praise to Enhance Student Resilience and Learning Outcomes: Explore Do’s and Don’ts, FAQs, and other information about how to use feedback to alter student mindsets. (American Psychological Association)
  • The Secret to Raising Smart Kids: Read an article authored by growth-mindset researcher Carol Dweck about research into growth mindset, and learn how to give valuable feedback by focusing on the specific process a child used to accomplish something; at the end of the article, there are several useful examples of effective praise. (Scientific American, 2015)




Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Successhttp://www.londonacademyofit.co.uk/learning-blog/learning/interactive-quiz-fixed-vs-growth-mindset/ [Accessed on 12.07.17]

https://www.edutopia.org/article/incorporating-growth-mindset-into-teaching-practice-donna-wilson-marcus-conyers [Accessed on 12.07.17]

http://carriekepple.com/2015/04/24/growth-mindset-vs-fixed-mindset-which-do-you-have/  [Accessed on 13.07.17]

Christine Gil Article https://www.edutopia.org/article/teachers-need-growth-mindset-christina-gil               [Accessed on 13.07.17]


Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78. 246-263.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006.

Gerstein, Jackie. "The Educator with a Growth Mindset: A Staff Workshop." User Generated Education. August 28, 2014. Accessed January 30, 2015. https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2014/08/29/the-educator-wit....

Morehead, James. "Stanford University's Carol Dweck on the Growth Mindset and Education." OneDublinorg. June 19, 2012. Accessed January 30, 2015. http://onedublin.org/2012/06/19/stanford-universitys-carol-dweck-on-the-....

"The Science: Growth Mindset." Mindset Works. January 1, 2014. Accessed January 30, 2015. http://www.mindsetworks.com/webnav/whatismindset.aspx.