Friday, July 12, 2013

More on Carol Dweck: What Does Feedback on Intelligence Do for Performance, in Schools and Work?

Continuing from the last post, what does feedback have to do with the way we perform, as children and adults?  And is it ever too late to change our mindset?

Carol Dweck has found that those kids with a growth mindset - those who think intelligence can be expanded through effort -- recover from set backs, take on difficult tasks, and improve scores more easily than those who do not.

What's more, a growth mindset can be learned, at least in part by the kind of feedback children receive from adults and each other.  Here's her example:

Children in Chicago schools of the same age and with the same scores were given three kinds of feedback when completing a task:

1. Wow, great score!  You must be smart at this.
2. Wow, great score!  You must have worked very hard.
3. Wow, great score.

The first is a fixed mindset response, reflecting that intelligence is set.  The second is a growth mindset response, reflecting that through effort, new connections are made in the brain and can increase what we think of as intelligence.  The third was the control group response, neither one nor the other.

After the task and feedback, all children were told that they could do whatever they wanted next.  They were offered the choice between a task that they could do easily or one that would take effort.

Those with fixed mindset feedback took the easy task.  They had been told they were smart, and they didn't want to jeopardise their status.

Those with growth mindset feedback took the harder task.  They felt they would be rewarded, both in their growth and from adults, from making an effort.

The control group came somewhere in the middle.

Perhaps not surprising, Dweck has found that the same sort of results occur with feedback in an office environment. 

For more, here's a video from Carol Dweck on mindsets and how they shape all of our performance.

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