Can academic success (and success in other aspects of our lives) be linked with the mindset that we approach it with? In order to answer this question, we need to distinguish the differences between fixed and growth mindset.
Fixed mindset is one where people believe that qualities such as their intelligence or talent is innate and heavily linked to their achievements in life. On the other hand, a growth mindset is one where people emphasize the effort and hard work that eventually lead to their successes rather than their own abilities.
People who exhibit either mindset also have different views on intelligence as well. On one side of the spectrum, people with fixed mindsets immediately become discouraged when faced with difficulties and mistakes. As a result of this fear, they also tend to avoid challenges because it’ll also threaten their ego. The other side of the spectrum displays people with growth mindsets, who welcome difficulties and see opportunities to grow in the face of challenges. They welcome each mistake as a new problem to solve and use these moments to learn.
Out of numerous studies done on students, data continues to show that those with growth mindsets show improvement over time. One study done on elementary students found that students who exhibited growth mindsets showed significant improvement over the course of two years whereas those who maintained fixed mindsets actually saw a decline in their academic performance.
More studies were conducted on the upbringing of children and what their parents praised them for. When children were praised for their intelligence, the number of problems that they solved before and after a failure significantly decreased while children who were praised for their efforts saw a drastic increase in the problems they solved before and after the failure. This goes to reinforce the idea that people with growth mindsets welcome challenges and want the opportunity to learn from their mistakes.
After comparing the two, I hope that the main takeaway is a shift toward a growth mindset. We should embrace the path we take to whatever the outcome might be rather than hyper fixating on the outcome itself.
Source: Dweck, C. S. (n.d.). The Secret to Raising Smart Kids. Scientific American. https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamericangenius0115-76