Boosting Student Academic Motivation and Performance Through Growth Mindset Oriented Praise
Presentation: Sasha Pawer
Session C | 10:05 – 10:45 | Location: Room 304 A
Teacher praise towards students may seem fairly harmless. What is the difference, however, between telling a student “you’ve really improved a lot,” in comparison to “you’re so smart?” According to research pioneered by Carol Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, there are detrimental distinctions between the aforementioned examples of praise. “You’re so smart” projects a fixed mindset and “you’ve really improved a lot” reflects a growth mindset. That is, while the former postulates that intelligence and abilities are static and effort is fruitless, the latter embraces the idea that intelligence and abilities can be developed through embracing challenges and persevering. Dweck’s extensive research finds that “praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance.” Ultimately then, it is vital to consider the effects of the messages educators are sending to students through praise. Heard repeatedly, students may internalize certain messages and values, which unintentionally or not, convey that traits such as intelligence or stupidity are inherent and inflexible attributes, or that mistakes are unacceptable. Upon recognizing the vast impact praise can have on students academically, I investigated the outcome of fixed mindset praise, in contrast to growth mindset praise by drawing upon Dweck’s research, as well as resources including Jo Boaler’s Mathematical Mindsets and Mary Cay Ricci’s Mindset in the Classroom. Furthermore, I examined practical ways to implement growth mindset practices into the classroom, particularly through adjusting teacher language and praise. Investigation of this topic has made me more cognizant of the concrete ways in which I can encourage my future students to be inspired and be passionate towards their own learning. For those attending the Investigating Our Practice conference, an examination of how to boost student academic motivation and performance through growth mindset oriented praise seeks to not only inform of the significance of mindset and praise within the classroom, but to provide concrete suggestions on how to proceed in praising students more effectively, and provoke conversation on the importance of moving away from a fixed mindset into a growth mindset in the classroom.