5 Steps to Developing a Growth Mindset: Increasing Student Motivation

Growth mindset

Students who exhibit a fixed mindset often make statements like “I’m just not smart enough,” or “I’ll never understand Math.” These statements keep students from progressing because they have internalized their inability to excel. Students with fixed mindsets believe their qualities are not changeable. Therefore, they are more likely to give up when things become difficult. 

Developing a growth mindset is essential. It allows students to recognize they are in control of their academic progress. Students with a growth mindset understand that with time, effort, and dedication, they can reach their goals. They take accountability for their actions and see mistakes as learning points necessary for improvement. According to American Psychologist Carol Dweck, people with a growth mindset recognize that intelligence can be developed through dedication and hardwork. Therefore, students with growth mindsets are often resilient and do not let minor setbacks deter them from reaching their goals. 

Growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset. (2019, July 14). [Image]. CBMtraining.

1. Self-Reflection 

It is never too late for students to develop a growth mindset and there are many ways to do so. The first step is self-reflection and acknowledgment of one’s weaknesses. For example, do you tend to procrastinate and often find yourself on a time crunch? Do you compare yourself to other classmates and question why you are not as smart as them? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, then it may be time to cultivate better habits. 

2. Self-Discipline 

The next step is developing discipline which involves effective planning, establishing realistic goals, and being proactive. To stay organized and recognize priorities, students can use

a planner to ensure they keep up with deadlines. In addition, setting realistic short-term goals acts as checkpoints to make sure students avoid procrastinating. Lastly, putting in consistent effort allows students to develop a habit of being organized and working towards their goals. This includes doing more practice problems, revisiting class notes, and asking teachers for help when needed. 

3. Identify Problems Areas 

The third step involves being able to identify problem areas in one’s learning. For example, a student who struggles with Math should identify what about Math seems to be confusing. Does she struggle with the problem solving or understanding what the question is asking? Maybe she already believes she is bad at math and refrains from putting effort to improve. 

For the first two problems, the student should prioritize doing more practice problems and asking clarifying questions. For the last problem, the student needs to change her mindset. Instead of saying “I’m not good at this,” she should start saying “I will understand Math with time and practice.” Little changes in the way we talk about our capabilities can go a long way in increasing student motivation and confidence. 

4. Focus on the Journey 

Oftentimes, we seek to rush the growing process to get to the end result. This can lead to unrealistic expectations within a short time frame. As a result, a student’s motivation will further decline if he believes his goals will never be achieved. Students should embrace the process of academic growth while genuinely learning. It is important for students to focus on learning the content more than simply getting an “A” in the class. That way, students are less likely to lose motivation and rush the process. Developing a growth mindset is a lifelong journey that should be embraced. 

5. Avoid Comparison 

It is not uncommon for humans to compare ourselves to others. While it is beneficial to look up to people and admire some for their qualities, excessive comparing damages a student’s self confidence. Just because a classmate always gets A’s and awards at school does not mean that other students are incapable of achieving those same accomplishments. In this case, students can use self-discipline to work towards their academic goals without feeling discouraged by another student’s accomplishments. 

Ultimately, students need to be reminded that a growth mindset is needed if they want to succeed in any aspect of life whether academic, social, or personal. When individuals believe that their “bad” traits cannot be changed, they will most likely avoid situations that can help them improve those qualities. However, understanding and accepting the idea that habits are not fixed will motivate students to try new methods and learn from setbacks. All students have the ability to excel as long as they develop and retain a growth mindset.

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