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Posted July 31, 2020

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Engineers of Tomorrow is a not-for-profit that is shaping the engineering narrative by telling better stories. 

Growth mindset vs Fixed Mindset – How can you help students learn to appreciate failures?

When describing the way people think about ability and talent, we often think of people having different “mindsets”.

Many people like to consider a fixed mindset and growth mindset as two distinct ways of thinking that exist on a continuum.

You may have heard these terms before, but do you know what they really mean?

A fixed mindset suggests that your abilities and talents are innate and unchangeable whereas a growth mindset views them as something you can improve through practice

The way that failure is perceived through these lenses highlights an important reason to promote a growth mindset for aspiring engineers.

In a fixed mindset, failure is seen as permanent, but with a growth mindset, you see failure as a chance to learn and pivot

For engineers, this ability to learn from failure is important! This is how we find problems,  improve designs, and create solutions!


What can you do to help students develop a growth mindset?

Say things like “keep trying/working hard and you’ll get it” or “everyone makes mistakes at the beginning”.

Encourage students to think about what they can learn from experience or activity, especially if things did not go the way that they were expecting.

Share your own stories of failure and recovery. One of the best ways to develop a growth mindset is by modelling one!

To find out more about fixed vs growth mindsets, check out this video!


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