BeginDiscoverDesignDevelopResourcesXQ INSTITUTE
students working on a small robot project


Helping ninth graders adopt a growth mindset can improve grades and increase enrollment in advanced courses.

Source: Nature

According to Carol S. Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, students with a growth mindset understand that intelligence and talents can be developed through perseverance and hard work. Because they know this, they are active, risk-taking learners committed to overcoming obstacles and striving for accomplishment.

By contrast, students with a fixed mindset believe basic qualities like intelligence and talent can’t be changed—so they spend their time documenting rather than developing their own capabilities.

It’s essential for adults who work with adolescents to ask themselves what they can do to help students develop the growth mindsets that will serve them well in college and work. Instead of saying, “You’re so smart,” what if teachers said, “You must have worked very hard.” When students say, “ I’m just not good at math,” what if teachers said “No one is born with a math brain. Anyone can achieve at high levels with hard work.” How can we help students better see the progress they make?

Witnessing traumatic events can have an impact on the physical development of a child’s brain. A supportive, caring adult can help overcome the effects of trauma by using five simple gestures.

  1. Celebrate. Use “put-ups,” not “put-downs.”
  2. Comfort. Stay calm and patient.
  3. Collaborate. Ask for their opinions.
  4. Listen. Show an interest in their passions.
  5. Inspire. Expose them to new ideas.

Dive Deep

  1. a student holding a small plant
    Developing a Growth Mindset

    Have you heard of the power of “yet”? In an engaging introduction to the concept of growth mindset, Carol S. Dweck shares ways to grow the brain’s capacity to solve tough problems.

  2. a student smiling
    How Kids Really Succeed

    In a thoughtful article in the Atlantic, Paul Tough explains how schools can help students growing up in difficult circumstances overcome the effects of adversity.

  3. a student holding an animal skull
    Embedding Youth Development

    Thought leaders Michele Cahill and Karen J. Pittman discuss how strong schools can empower students to discover their identities and take charge of their own learning.

    Read More
  4. a student fastening a bolt
    The Mindset Kit

    This toolkit from Stanford University helps adults understand mindsets that support student learning and ways to foster them in youth.

    Read More
Download the Academic Mindset Worksheet