Develop a Growth Mindset

We have discussed growth mindset throughout the course. As you reflect on your first term as a college student and plan for the remainder of your time as a college student, you have the opportunity to apply what you have learned about growth mindset to your own studies.

In any academic endeavour, you will encounter times when you are faced with obstacles or difficulties. Perhaps you are taking a course that you are finding particularly difficult. Perhaps you received some difficult feedback or a grade that was lower than you expected. How can you move ahead in a way that prepares you for success?

Everyone encounters setbacks at times. When this happens, you have a choice of possible responses. Some people respond to setbacks by concluding that they may lack the ability to complete the course successfully. Others respond by concluding that the course or instructor is unfair, and blame their setback on an external force beyond their control. These responses are associated with what is called a fixed mindset.

Others respond to setbacks and negative feedback by asking what they can learn from the experience. Their focus is less on achieving a specific grade or result, and more on learning as much as possible from their experiences in college. Individuals with this mindset, which is called a growth mindset, are better able to recover from setbacks and to go on to achieve greater success.

How do these two mindsets compare?

 Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset

  • Intelligence is not fixed, but it can be developed over time.
  • Difficult tasks are worth pursuing.
  • Feedback, even if it offers correction, is beneficial to support future growth.
  • Intelligence is fixed, and cannot be changed.
  • If a task is difficult, it should be discontinued.
  • Negative feedback should be avoided or minimized.

Put the Growth Mindset into Practice

If you have discovered that you have a fixed mindset, consider how changing your thinking toward a growth mindset can influence your opportunities for successful learning and growth.

  • Adjust your self-talk: A key phrase to remember is “I can’t do it — yet.” Consider feedback as information to help you as you continue to grow toward a goal, not as a final evaluation of your ability to learn and achieve.
  • Respond to feedback differently: Rather than viewing feedback as criticism of who you are, consider feedback as an opportunity to grow.
  • Rather than quitting when you face setbacks, use them as an opportunity to adjust your approach: You may be learning that your current approach to learning is not leading to the success you desire. Seek out support from others, and try new ways of learning. Setbacks are an opportunity to learn about yourself and to discover the ways of working that will be most effective for you.
  • Embrace challenging opportunities: Though it may at first seem easier to avoid situations that might be difficult or have the risk of failure, embracing challenges leads to success in the long term. Consider how accepting challenges will help you become the person you want to be in the future.


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