The Science of a Growth Mindset

We are really keen to see a Growth Mindset approach to learning and life cultured and developed across the College. We’ve begun to see pockets of practice emerge over the course of the year – for example the excellent work that Emma and our Feedback Hub has been developing on Growth Mindset marking.

Here’s a fascinating video on the science behind Growth Mindset theory: neuroplasticity. Check it out and let us know your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “The Science of a Growth Mindset

  1. Psychologists have found that neural growth, as described above, has rebound effects on all the inter linked neural connections.The brain rarely works in a reductionist way. This is important to consider when focusing on the “growth” of new skills/thinking, especially at a collective level. Effectively what happens is in order for new learning to take place and mastery to be achieved a lot of focus ( psychological energy) is given to one area of development. This means other embedded skills / thinking that have previously been at mastery level often appear to move backwards. There are many reasons for this. New ways of thinking impact the individual on a social and emotional level as well as a cognitive / biological level.For example, schools require a lot of neural growth from year 7’s when they arrive in terms of their independence and need to develop new learning styles, organisation skills etc in comparison to primary systems. Psychologists have found that during this transition time they effectively move backwards in some areas of more academic cognition whilst developing these new skills. Karmilloff – Smith writes a lot about this . “U shaped learning”. The brain is a funny thing and in times of challenge has a pretty distinctive order, based on evolution, in which it prioritises “growth” (Maslow). This is why social and emotional aspects of learning are prioritised in many education systems as the brain will tackle these first. The good news is when new neural networks are finally established the rebound works the other way and rapid development seems to occur across a broad range of areas. I guess I m just saying – it ain’t as easy as that made it look which is why growth mindset guru’s advocate embracing failure as part of learning as it will inevitably occur.


  2. Neuroplasticity is well established in a variety of fields and is probably behind some of the success of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which is currently a front line therapy in mental health. An interesting (and very small) piece of research I did last year suggests that there may be a ‘meta’ element to Growth Mindset in that nearly all of my subjects (sixth form) improved their ‘openess’ to the ideas of growth mindset with one notable exception, that person had the most ‘closed’ result in the survey at the outset and was more entrenched at the end; although n=1 it is fascinating that there may be a mindset about the idea of mindsets! Interesting!


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