Developing Growth Mindset: Lessons for E-learning & Training Managers

Developing Growth Mindset Lessons for E-learning & Training Managers

Developing Growth Mindset:  Lessons for E-learning & Training Managers

“You really can’t be a good manager if you don’t have a growth mindset.”

– Dr. Carol Dweck, Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor, Stanford University and author of Mindset- the new psychology of success

Providing feedback is an important component of summative or formative assessments in an eLearning course. As an eLearning developer or training manager, the onus of motivating employees and peers to augment their skills and knowledge lies with them. So, what do eLearning and training managers learn from Dr. Carol Dweck, who suggests that managers have “Growth Mindset”?

Dr. Dweck is a Stanford psychologist, who has done extensive research and pointed out that the way we give feedback to individuals has a long term effect on their performance. According to her, feedback can be given in two ways.

  1. You praise intelligence – “Congratulations! You must be smart”
  2. You praise the effort put – “Great job!, you must have really worked hard for this”

She has found out that those praised for intelligence developed “fixed mindset” and those praised for effort developed “growth mindset”. Over a period of time, those with fixed mindset displayed reduced performance, whereas those with growth mindsets displayed continued or improved performance.

Here is a tabular representation, of what fixed and growth mindsets do to an individual, adapted from an image published in the Stanford alumni magazine.

Fixed Mindset Growth Mindset
Think intelligence is static. Believe intelligence can be developed.
Possess an inherent desire to look smart. More open to learning and seeking knowledge.
Likely to avoid challenges. Tend to play safe to save their image. More likely to embrace challenges. View challenges as opportunities to learn and grow.
Might give up easily when faced with hurdles. Could be persistent in the wake of hurdles.
Could undermine the value of effort as a fruitless exercise. View effort as essential to attain mastery.
Less likely to learn from criticism or negative feedback. Open to learn from criticism and negative feedback.
Constantly under threat by others’ success. Look for lessons and inspirations from others’ success.
Though see early success, they may not achieve their full potential in the long-run. Obtain continuous or higher levels of achievement.
Demonstrate a deterministic view of the world Demonstrate a greater sense of free will.

If you want to know more about the research done by Dr. Dweck, check out this YouTube video that explains it well. Though the research group consisted of children, the findings have been proved to be true even with adults. Else, you can jump down to my inference from this research.

So, coming to my earlier question, what can eLearning or training managers learn from this research, I think when giving feedback to summative and formative assessments, one needs to be careful.

The statements that are used should focus on the effort displayed by the learner and not contain adjectives that praise the learner.

This suggestion is valid for managers who need to motivate and guide their team members during their day to day interactions as well. After all, in the days where knowledge becomes outdated very fast and skills need to be renewed on a continual basis, a growth mindset is what one needs to develop. Don’t you think it is true?

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