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19.3: Developing a growth mindset

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    The beliefs people have about intelligence play a big role in mathematics. Some believe intelligence remains the same, this is a fixed mindset. Others believe in a growth mindset, where intelligence changes throughout your lifetime. People with a fixed mindset believe they are good at certain things and bad at others. With a growth mindset, a person could work hard enough and become good at whatever they want.

    A person with a fixed mindset and who is good at mathematics will be able to be successful most of the time, but when they come to an obstacle, they tend to give up quicker than those with a growth mindset.

    Students with a growth mindset see math as something to work at. When it gets difficult, which it will, they persevere. They believe that the brain is like a muscle, the harder one works, the stronger it gets.

    In this model, students are first taught about the brain and how growth mindset works. Then they apply this mindset to learning mathematics or other topics.

    Explicitly teaching students how growth mindset works is a foundational skill for success. Growth mindset instruction should be an integral part of both core programs and intervention programs.


    • Boaler, J. (2015). Mathematical Mindsets: Unleashing Students’ Potential Through Creative Math, Inspiring Messages and Innovative Teaching. John Wiley & Sons.
    • Dweck, C. (2008). Mindsets and Math/Science Achievement. Prepared for the Carnegie Corporation of New York-Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education.
    • Motivating Students to Grow their Minds. Copyright © 2008–2012. Retrieved from Mindset Works.

    19.3: Developing a growth mindset is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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