Encouraging a Growth Mindset in Math

One of my areas of passion as an educator is helping students develop a growth mindset. I first stumbled across the idea of fixed vs growth mindsets when I read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Since then, I have tried many different strategies in my classroom to develop an awareness and educate my students about the importance of having a growth mindset. As both a science and math educator, I have felt a strong need to educate mathematics students about fixed and growth mindsets. In my experience, it is much more common for students to have a fixed mindset in math than in my science courses.

A fixed mindset occurs when someone thinks that their ability or intelligence in an area is static. For example, they may feel that they are not a “math person” and therefore are not interested in putting forth much effort. Or, they may feel that they are “smart” when it comes to math and may actually be fearful of being challenged or making a mistake as it may challenge their identity as a strong math student and/or make them appear less “smart”.

In contrast, students with a growth mindset understand that they learn when they make mistakes. They also understand that the more they challenge themselves, the more confident and capable they will become.

growth-v-fixed

If you are interested in learning more, here are some great resources:

If you are new to the idea of growth mindset, I highly encourage you to educate yourself so that you can start to make small changes in your classroom. I work at an international school where math is highly valued. Even still, every year, there are at least 1 or 2 students who seem to really transform; they become more engaged and much more confident in math. Encouraging growth mindsets in my math classroom inspired me and has improved learning for ALL of my students. I hope you have the same experience 🙂

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