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What Teacher Practices Can Support A Growth Mindset?

Updated: Nov 20, 2021

In the OECD report, "Sky's the limit: Growth mindset, students, and schools in PISA," two examples of teacher practices bolstering students' growth mindset are given. One is the "Academic Courage" practiced by El Foundation. The EL Education model "combines character and social-emotional skills development with building academic skills." Students are encouraged to raise their hands, ask questions, explain their thinking, make mistakes in public, etc. This practice "inspires students to embrace challenges, foster their growth mindset, and support them in becoming leaders of their own learning." Under the EL Model, teachers and principals learn to address their fixed mindset to model it and help their students.

Another example happened in a small primary school in the UK. The school transformed from being in the "bottom set" and beset with "massive underachievement" in 2003 to be "outstanding in all areas" by 2011. The school embraced the idea of "learning without limit," central to which is "getting rid of ability labeling or fixed certainties." When the school principal and teachers refuse to set limits, their students learn to exceed their own or others' expectations.

So what are the key teacher practices that support a growth mindset?

  • Teacher support—most highly associated with the development of students' growth mindset.

  • Adaptive instruction (i.e., teachers using alternative instructional strategies that integrate learning challenges as usual facets of the learning process)—positively associated with students' growth mindset

  • Teacher feedback—mixed results; positively correlated with growth mindset among medium performers, not correlated among top performers, and negatively correlated among low performers.

These results highlight the critical role of teachers in establishing an environment conducive to growth mindset development and providing guidance and continuous feedback to support the learning process of students.

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