Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck coined the term growth mindset to describe student belief that intelligence and ability can grow with effort. If students believe the brain is a muscle that must be exercised, they’re more likely to interpret setbacks as opportunities to learn and improve. Conversely, students with a fixed mindset believe their ability is limited and show less motivation to take on new challenges.

Fostering a growth mindset has become increasingly central to many school cultures, especially for female students. Girls are more likely to believe that their ability is fixed, especially in math. Helping them to develop a growth mindset can give girls the motivation to persevere in areas of study they find challenging because they understand through hard work they can improve and succeed.

The notion of struggle as it pertains to learning is also a big component of the growth mindset idea: in many cultures, the point of struggle is when learning happens, and studies have shown that students have bigger gains in learning and understanding if they’re left to figure it out on their own without teachers’ help.

Take a look at the posts below, which include ideas for fostering growth mindsets, an educators guide to fostering perseverance and a discussion of why even geniuses struggle.


1. What’s Your Learning Disposition? How to Foster Students’ Mindsets

2. Beyond Talent And Smarts: Why Even Geniuses Struggle

3. Struggle Means Learning: Difference in Eastern and Western Cultures

4. The Science of Character: Developing Positive Learning Traits

5. Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick

6. Beyond Talent and Smarts: Why Even Geniuses Struggle

7. Girls and Math: Busting the Stereotype

8. Eight Ways of Looking at Intelligence

9. Can Everyone Be Smart At Everything?

The Difference Between Praise and Feedback

Parenting these days is patrolled by the language police. Sometimes it seems like the worst thing you could ever say to a kid is “Good job!” or the dreaded, “Good girl!” Widely popularized psychological research warns about the “inverse power of praise” and the importance of “unconditional parenting.” What are these researchers really getting at? Are the particular words we use to talk to our kids so important? And how do we convey positive feelings without negative consequences?

Debunking the Genius Myth

Two authors use the latest research in psychology and neuroscience to try and convince teens, with lots of pop culture references and humor thrown in, that understanding how their brain learns can help them “totally rule the world.”


Eight Ways of Looking at Intelligence

The science of learning can offer some surprising and useful perspectives on how we guide and educate young people. Things like our perception of "smart," relationships between students and educators, sleep, and use of technology can have profound effects on intelligence.


Beyond Talent and Smarts: Why Even Geniuses Struggle

Flickr:Bunchesandbits “The struggle with writing is over.” That message, written on a Post-It note and affixed to his computer, brings the novelist Philip Roth great relief and contentment these days, according to a profile published earlier this week in the New York Times. At the age of 79, the author of more than 31 acclaimed … Continue reading Beyond Talent and Smarts: Why Even Geniuses Struggle →


Discovering How to Learn Smarter

Getty By Annie Murphy Paul It’s not often that a story about the brain warms the heart. But that’s exactly what happened to me when I read an article last month in the Washington Post. It’s about how teachers in many schools in the D.C. area are foregoing empty praise of the “Good job!” variety, … Continue reading Discovering How to Learn Smarter →


Girls and Math: Busting the Stereotype

Do girls need special attention when it comes to science, math, and technology topics? In response to last week’s article about Techbridge, the after-school science program specifically geared to girls, some readers strongly refuted the notion that girls need the extra nudge. “‘Steering’ something suggests directing it in a path it would not normally, of … Continue reading Girls and Math: Busting the Stereotype →