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Written by Denise Camillo

October 19, 2021


Before we get into the whys, let’s start by looking at some definitions.  Carl Dweck throughout her research found that one of the basic beliefs we have about ourselves is how we view what we consider to be our own personality.  A fixed mindset assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative abilities are set in stone from an early age and cannot change.  A growth mindset thrives on challenge and sees failure as a moment of growth extending our abilities.


How do these two mindsets affect learning?


A student with a fixed mindset believes that they were born with their intelligence and that it is fixed (meaning it cannot change).  School can be a threatening place for a fixed mind individual because they are always trying to prove themselves or avoid looking unintelligent.  Fixed mind students tend to avoid challenges and give up easily.  They focus on getting an A rather than learning from their mistakes.

A student with a growth mindset sees intelligence as being developed.  They understand that they can get smarter through hard work, the use of effective strategies, and help from others.  They experience school as an exciting place to grow and embrace challenges.  They also take feedback in a positive manner, learn from their mistakes, and move on in a positive manner.

Did you know that your brain is malleable?  This means your brain is like a muscle and when you challenge it, it gets stronger. 

Okay, so you are probably thinking what do these things have to do with online learning?  Well, if you have a fixed mindset and are taking online classes you will have a hard time with communication and instructor feedback.  Being isolated can cause anxiety by itself, but if you also cannot motivate yourself to take on a challenge or take in feedback and learn from it, it will be hard for you to excel and most likely will quit.  On the other hand, if you have a growth mindset you will be more likely to communicate your feelings with your instructors and support systems and be able to review feedback and learn from it moving on smoothly with your classes.  The good news is that you can develop a growth mindset if you are already not thinking in that manner.

Here are some ways to grow your mindset:


  1. View failures in a different light – I like to stop, read, process the information, and then act. Always keep in mind that failure is a way to learn.  I always tell my students that fixing their mistakes is how we learn new things.  Also, if you can take a negative situation and find a positive in it then it will be easier to take in.  Remember, no one is perfect.
  2. Bolster your self-awareness – Sit down and write down your strengths and weaknesses. Ask for other opinions.  Focus on the positive.
  3. Become a curious learner – Decide that you will live in a world of discovery and learning. This will help you to want to take on that challenge.
  4. Love what you do – If you are doing things in your life that you do not love, change them. Stay positive and surround yourself with positive people.
  5. Become unstoppable – Don’t give up. Try it in small steps and you will see it will change your mindset.  Creating habits will help you to succeed.

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