Carol Dweck On How Praise Impacts Learning

As we move towards report card season, you might find it helpful to watch this video clip on mindset and how academically beneficial or discouraging praise can be. In this clip, Carol Dweck effectively communicates how praise impacts learning and the importance of praising effort in children as they go through the sometimes challenging processes of learning. Have a look. And if you’d like to read her excellent book, Mindset, you can buy it here.

How Praise Impacts Future Learning

The take away here is that when we praise intelligence, “you are really smart” we inadvertently guide children to choose easier options in the future. A child is led to believe your acceptance or value of them will be diminished if they try something that doesn’t make them look smart. This fixed mindset “I am smart” won’t allow a child to risk take to improve their learning because it may change your feelings or approval of them as smart. Children praised for being smart might show early frustration in challenging tasks and gave up earlier than children praised for effort!

On the other hand, when we praise effort,  “you must have worked really hard at this” we support children’s growth and willingness to choose harder tasks in the future. Risk taking is approved and the process is valued. The growth mindset “I am a learner” means that mistakes are part of the learning process and acceptable. Children praised for effort worked harder, longer and enjoyed learning more than the children praised for intelligence or ability.

When those report cards come home, try to avoid praising intelligence or abilities. Instead,  focus on the process and new strategies learned with an emphasis on the effort put into the learning that occurred this term!

How praise impacts learning

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