You might wonder why we are taking time to discuss growth mindset in a communication class. The reason is that a growing body of educational research shows that individuals who are most successful in the classroom, at work, and in their personal lives have a growth mindset as opposed to a fixed mindset.
Carol Dweck, a cognitive psychologist and leading expert on mindset research, defines fixed and growth mindset in the following way:
In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. 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 resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.
Students with a growth mindset believe that with effort, practice, perseverance, resilience, and persistence they can “grow” or build their intelligence or strength in a certain skill, whether that skill is improving their pronunciation, building their vocabulary, writing an outline, giving a speech, or interviewing for a job.
People with a growth mindset do not avoid meeting a challenge, nor do they quit when test results in a college class or a performance review at work are disappointing. Instead, a growth-minded person is open to feedback or well-intended criticism because he or she is eager to grow and improve. Growth-minded people seek out resources and people that can help them and are willing to put in the work that improvement takes. This does not mean that the student with a growth mindset will earn an "A" on every assignment, just as it does not mean that every basketball player, with practice, will become as skilled as a professional player such as Stephen Curry or Michael Jordan. What it does mean is that a person with a growth mindset is willing to put in the effort and practice to become stronger or more accomplished.
A Comparison of Fixed and Growth Mindsets
Applying a Growth Mindset to Your Fundamentals of Communication Class
Some students approach this class with the mindset that they are already good enough communicators and therefore won’t have to put forth much effort. As a result, they do the bare minimum to get a passing grade. Other students might approach the class with the mindset that because they have terrible communication anxiety, they are just going to have to suffer through the class and get it out of the way. Neither attitude leads to doing their best work.
Eduardo Briceno explains more about Growth Mindset in a presentation he gave at a TEDx event. In the video he gives helpful tips for applying Growth Mindset to our lives.
Some of the most important takeaways from this video are that:
- Our mindset can affect every aspect of our lives.
- A growth mindset is supported by science and brain research.
- With deliberate practice and effort, you can grow your abilities and intelligence in any area.
Growth Mindset Exercise
- List and define 3 characteristics of a growth mindset.
- Explain why we are including a growth mindset discussion in this class.
- Each of the following statements shows indications of a fixed mindset. On your own or with a classmate or group, change the wording to show a growth mindset.
- My grammatical skills always lower my grade.
- I’m a good communicator. I don’t need this class.
- I can’t get to work on time because of the traffic.
- I don’t want to say anything in class because my answer is probably wrong.
- People won’t be able to understand me when I speak because English is not my first language.
- There is nothing I can do about my speech anxiety; I’m just a nervous person.
Assignment: Growth Mindset Quiz
Instructions: Take the Mindset Quiz below, then answer the following questions. After you have completed this assessment, submit your answers to the following questions.
What were your results on the Mindset Quiz? What does this mean?
Did your results surprise you or were they what you expected? Explain.
How can you use the results of this quiz? Be specific
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