Carol Dweck’s research on students’ self- theories and how they affect motivation, resilience and aspirations.
Their Role in Motivation, Personality &Development (Psychology Press, 1999)
Carol Dweck has done research over the last 30 years with children and young adults in the USA She is particularly interested in how students view themselves as learners Their self-theory is likely to have a major effect on their self-belief, their motivation to learn and their resilience
Carol Dweck - Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality andDevelopment, Psychology Press, 1999 I believe that I thrive on challenge intelligence is not fixed I throw m yself into M y intelligence can be difficult tasks im proved through I am self-confident learning Increm ental I can ignore the (G row th ) low aspirations of I have learning goals m y peers I like feedback on m y perform ance so I I react to failure can im prove by trying harder I engage in self- m onitoring About 40% of US students hold an incremental theory of ability Slide 7
Carol Dweck - Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development,Psychology Press, 1999 I b eliev e th at I d on ’t like ch allen g e intelligence is fix ed I d on ’t w ant to risk I w as bo rn b right/no t look in g stup id v ery b rig ht I am v u ln erable E n tity I tend to con fo rm (F ixed ) to the lo w I lik e easy aspiration s o f m y p erfo rm an ce go als p eers and b eing told I’v e I react to failure d on e w ell b y sw itch in g o ff and avo iding th e issues About 40% of US students hold an entity theory of ability Easy praise is not the answer - it makes the situation worse Slide 8
OFSTED – outstanding grade descriptorThe pupils acquire knowledge, develop understanding and learnand practise skills exceptionally well.Pupils demonstrate excellent concentration and are rarely offtask, even during extended periods without direction from anadult.They have developed resilience when tackling challengingactivities in a range of subjects.Their keenness and commitment to succeed in all aspects ofschool life and abilities to grasp opportunities to extend andimprove their learning are exceptional.Progress is at least good in each key stage, key subjects andfor different groups and is exemplary in some.
The hallmark of successful individuals is that they love learning, they value effort and they persist in the face of obstacles.In her book “Self-theories”, Carol Dweck presents research that explains why some students (incremental learners) display this growth mindset and others (entity learners) do not.She also shows how, in the right environment, students can learn to become incremental learners.
Four Beliefs and Four Truths about Ability, Success, Praise and Confidence(Carol Dweck – Self-Theories, 1999)
You might think that students who were highly skilled would be the ones to relish a challenge and persevere in the face of setbacks. Instead, many of these students are the most worried about failure, and the most likely to question their ability and to wilt when they hit obstacles(Leggett, 1985)
You might also think that when students succeed, they are emboldened and energized to seek out more challenging tasks. The truth is that success in itself does little to boost students’ desire for challenge or their ability to cope with setbacks. In fact we can see that it can have quite the opposite effect.(Diener & Dweck, 1978, 1980)
This is a most cherished belief in our society. One can hardly walk down the street without hearing parents telling their children how smart they are. The hope is that such praise will instil confidence and thereby promote a host of desirable qualities. Far from promoting the hoped for qualities, this type of praise can lead students to fear failure, avoid risks, doubt themselves when they fail and cope poorly with setbacks.(Mueller & Dweck, 1998)
In a way, it seems only logical to assume that students who have confidence in their intelligence – who clearly believe they are smart – would have nothing to fear from challenge and would be somehow inoculated against the ravages of failure. But many of the most confident individuals do not want their intelligence too stringently tested, and their high confidence is all too quickly shaken when they are confronted with difficulty.(Henderson & Dweck, 1990; Dweck & Lin, 1998)
•Work in pairs or threes.•Take three cards from theenvelope: two horses and one cardwith two jockeys.•Position the three cards so thateach jockey is sitting on horseback.•Do not fold the cards.
Discuss in pairs or threes for two or three minutes –Explain why you think you have this self-theory
Teachers are incremental learners – good role models Essential that we show them we believe their intelligence is not fixed We need to make them believe they can improve We need to ensure they know how to improve Collaborative classroom environment where pupils take responsibility for their own learning Pupils understand the Growth Mindset and how it can help them
We need to praise: Effort Strategies that lead towards success Good learning processes (AfL strategies) ResilienceWe should not praise: Intelligence, “cleverness” or talent
Self-esteem for Entity Learners can be boosted in the short term by easy success – but does not last and is just as easily diminished by failures Self-esteem for Incremental Learners is much more resilient and less likely to be affected by failure It is a positive way of experiencing yourself when you are fully engaged and using all your abilities in pursuit of something you value True self-esteem is not something we give people by telling them about their high intelligence
Y5 & Y6 students were given a series of conceptual problems to solve All children could solve the first eight problems, with hints or training if needed They could not solve the next four problems as these were too difficult for their age What happened to their thoughts, feelings and actions when confronted with this failure?
Quickly began to denigrate their abilities and blame their intelligence for failures (“I’m no good at this”) Moments before they had been successful and their performance was just as good as Incremental Learners Following failure, many now thought they could not solve the problems they had just got right! They also thought they had got more problems wrong than right! (in fact they had got twice as many right) Their fragile self-belief quickly disappeared
Did not blame their intelligence for failure, in fact most did not even see themselves as failing! Tended to issue instructions to themselves on how to improve performance (eg “I should try to slow down and figure this out”) Remained confident that they would succeed Retained the positive mood that they had shown while solving the easier problems Retained their self-belief in the face of difficulty(Dweck – Self-Theories 1999)
In Dweck’s research, students with the most striking history of success were often the most, rather than the least, vulnerable when confronted with difficulties or failure. These are the bright girls. Bright girls were more vulnerable than lower achieving girls (with boys it was the opposite) and more concerned with looking smart.
There was no evidence that setting raised achievement But there was evidence that setting diminished achievement for some students There was much evidence that the students who were disadvantaged by this system were predominantly working class, female or very able.Jo Boaler, 1997
“In set 1 for example, the students who experienced the most difficulties in response to setting were originally the highest attainers in the group. At the end of Y8, immediately before the students were setted, Carly & Lorna attained the highest and second highest NFER scores in the school. At the end of Y11 these two students achieved the lowest GCSE grades in set 1 (grade E)”Setting, Social class & Survival of the Quickest,Jo Boaler – British educational Research Journal, 1997
JB: Can you think of some good and bad things about being in set 1?L: I can think of the bad thingsC: I agree.JB: OK, what are the bad things?L: You’re expected to know everything, even if you’re not sure about thingsC: You’re pushed too hard.L: He expects you to work all the time at a high level.C: It makes me do less work, they expect too much of me and I can’t give it so I just give up.(Carly & Lorna, Amber Hill, Year 11, Set 1)
“I was surprised to find that two girls who came out as clear entity learners from the Carol Dweck Intelligence Theory Questionnaire were the top two in the year group in Midyis scores” Louise Skinner, Longbenton College
A level Maths requires students to fail intelligently (and learn from their failure) Many high achieving girls (and boys as well) cannot cope with this unless they are incremental learners or unless their teacher promotes a Growth Mindset
Be honest with students about where they are and what they need to do to improve High expectations for students in low ability groupings Collaborative learning Leave space in top set for promotion Make sure they have the chance to progress to a higher set, so move between sets twice a term Avoid reinforcing the fixed mindset!
Entity learners: “When I don’t make mistakes” “When I finish my work first” “When I get easy workIncremental Learners: “When I don’t know how to do it and its pretty hard and I figure it out without anyone telling me” “When I’m doing school work because I want to learn to get smart” “When I’m reading a hard book”
Entity Learners: “How smart you are” “Inborn ability to learn complex ideas” “The ability to survive with the least effort while still doing really well”Incremental Learners: “Studying hard” “The amount of knowledge you possess and how you use it” “How much effort you put into something”
Get Incremental Learners to give advice to Entity Learners:Q. “What advice would you give to a child in your class who was having trouble with Math?A. “Do you quit a lot? Do you think for a minute and then stop? If you do, you should think for a long time – two minutes maybe and if you can’t get it you should read the problem again. If you can’t get it then, you should raise your hand and ask the teacher.” (second grade child) Mindset by C Dweck
Discuss the Incremental Learner & Entity Learner Mindmap slides with children Ask them when they feel smart & why Discuss easy work and difficult work (which helps you learn more?) Discuss the importance of challenge and having a go at difficult tasks Why mistakes are good Discuss sporting and other role-models Discuss the Growth Mindset & Process Praise with parents Focus on Learning
In Y7 the work may become harder in some subjects (may be easier in others!) Grading may become more stringent Instruction may be less personalised Students may initially be less clear about what their teachers require of them Classroom environment may seem less safe
Many showed a marked decline in their class standing Those who had done poorly in Y6 tended to continue to do poorly Many who had been high achievers in Y6 were now among the lower achievers Many who showed this decline had held high confidence in their intelligence Were significantly more apprehensive about their school work and tended to be more anxious about school in general Did show some recovery in their standing in Y8 but were still clearly below where they had been in Primary SchoolHenderson & Dweck 1990
Many showed a clear improvement in their class standing Those who had done well in Y6 continued to do well Many of those who had been among the lower achievers in Y6 were now doing much better, often entering the ranks of higher achievers Many of those making the most impressive gains were those with low confidence in their intelligenceHenderson & Dweck 1990
% students making expected progress 70 60 50 Growth 40% Borderline 30 20 Fixed 10 0 h t hs ce se is at n gl d ie in M En Sc lm Al