We've been talking a bit in class this week about the difference in thinking about yourself as smart vs. hardworking.  More importantly, we've been talking about the ramifications of those two very different mindsets.  

For example, today I handed out some timed reading quizzes.  I told the students right up front that they were just for practice and we would be throwing them away when we finished.  As we were discussing reading strategies prior to the quiz, I noticed some students sneakily reading ahead in their quizzes.  I allowed this, and when the quiz was over asked them to reflect about their mindset.  If you are concerned with looking smart, you might decide to sneak a look at your timed quiz ahead of time so that you can get more time and a higher score.  However, if you were interested in working hard (and learning as opposed to just looking smart) you probably didn't look ahead at your quiz.  You'd want a better idea of what you can do within the allotted time.  You'd want to see what your problems were and where you found success so that you could use that knowledge to do better next time. 

If you want to learn more about mindsets, I highly encourage you to sit down with a really important study done by a researcher named Carol Dweck.  You can read the entire article linked to here (focusing especially at the section toward the bottom of page 3), but the gist of it says the following:

When kids were told, "You must be smart at this," they responded by:
- believing they couldn't grow - their identity is "fixed"
- wanting easy tasks where they could continue to prove they really were smart
- losing confidence and enjoyment when they struggle on problems
- wanting to compare themselves with "lower" students to make themselves feel better
- 40% lied about scores they received to make themselves look better
- performing 20% worse on future assessments
- desiring to appear to perform well

When kids were told, "You must have worked really hard at this," they responded by:
- believing they could grow and improve at tasks
- wanting harder tasks where they could challenge themselves and get even better
- actually enjoying hard problems because they know they will grow from the experience
- wanting to compare themselves with "higher" students so they can see how to improve
- only 10% lied about scores they received
- performing 40% better on future assessments
- desiring to learn

I actually first came across this study in a book called How We Decide, by Jonah Lehrer.  It's a fascinating book on how the emotional and logical parts of our brains battle it out to get their way.
angela singh
9/17/2011 08:13:47 am

Thanks Taylor for sharing this. Really helpful material.


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