I believe that a student’s mindset can be changed in both a positive and negative manner. A student with a fixed mindset within a subject may lack motivation and/or confidence. By promoting a positive learning environment and giving these students the opportunity to engage in active learning their mindset may be changed to a growth one. The link you provided demonstrated how a students with a growth mindset may “degrade” to a fixed mindset through reassuring praise. If we are you praise our students it should be because of their effort.

Changing a student’s mindset in a positive way is no easy task. But as instructors we have the tools to help aid this issue. Fischer (1999) suggests that self-directed learning can change a student’s mindset, specifically through authentic problems. He also mentions that people’s mindset can change through informal learning simply by being in the world. Here are some slides based on Fischer’s paper.

I believe that authentic problems that relate to a student’s career goals can improve their motivation to learn and their mindset. However, I am not convinced that appreciation can aid in changing a mindset from fixed to growth. Many adults do not need to be praised for their effort and although the intentions may be positive, it still may be interpreted as degrading.


Fischer, G: “Lifelong Learning: Changing Mindsets”, Proceedings of ICCE 99, 7th International Conference on Computers in Education on “New Human Abilities for the Networked Society”, November 4-7, 1999, Chiba, Japan. pp. 21 – 30.


About simoncrothers

I am an Australian who moved to British Columbia, Canada with my family in 1998. After completing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and computing science at Simon Fraser University, I moved back to Australia for several years. During this time I completed a Masters in Computational Mathematics and began my teaching career in mathematics at the University of New South Wales. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and taught computer science at Douglas College for three years. I am currently regular faculty in the Computer Business Systems department at KPU. I have also taught some courses in the Business and Quantitative Methods department at KPU. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife Jami, who I met in Australia, our three year old daughter Lillian, and our newly born son Aiden. I also like to indulge in the occasional video game and I am involved in various self-employed web development projects.
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