Growth Mindset

Using growth-oriented feedback and language to reinforce a focus on growth.
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Earn Graduate Credit
Graduate-level credit is available for this micro-credential. You can apply for credit through one of our university partners after successfully completing the micro-credential.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

After learning about how the brain is like a muscle that improves with effort, teachers and students use appropriate growth mindset-oriented language focused on recognizing and encouraging effort rather than on general personal praise when giving feedback on a student's performance; this sustains a positive, growth-oriented, motivating learning environment.

Method Components

The educator incorporates growth mindset oriented language into lessons and conversations and encourages students to do the same. This can be done individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction, and it can happen as part of a stand-alone activity or be integrated into a content lesson.

Growth mindset-oriented feedback messages

  • For students still struggling even with strong effort:
    • When you think you can't do it, remind yourself that you can't do it yet.
    • What did you do to prepare for this? Is there anything you can do to prepare differently next time?
    • OK, so you didn't do as well as you wanted to. Let's look at this as an opportunity to learn.
    • Mistakes are helpful, it's the kinds of mistakes you make along the way that helps me learn how best to support you.
    • You might be struggling now, but I know you're making progress, and I see your growth (in these places).
    • Of course it's hard that's what makes our brains stronger!
    • You can do it. It's tough, but you really can; let's break it down into steps.
    • I admire your persistence and hard work, you can look back already and see how much you've learned.
    • Edison said, 'I didn't fail, I just discovered 1,000 ways that don't work.'
  • For students making progress easily:
    • Easy is boring; hard is more of a challenge and more fun.
    • What other areas would you really like to learn more about, something you're really interested in, something you have some passion about?
    • It's great you have that down. Now let's find something a bit more challenging so you can really grow.
    • What skill would you like to work on next?
  • For students making progress with strong effort:
    • Hey that's really a tough (problem/question/task) you're working on. What strategies are you using?
    • I can really see a difference in your work compared to. You have really grown (in these areas).
    • I see you're using your (strategies/tools/notes/etc.), keep it up!
    • Wow, you were working on this for a long time and you didn't quit!
    • Your hard work is clearly evident in your (process, project, product, etc.).

Suggested preparation

  • Students take an online growth mindset evaluation (such as and discuss the results; repeat at the end of this activity and discuss the changes.
  • Students study the materials presented in the Mindset Works EducatorKit, available for free at, or other age-appropriate resource materials that describe scientifically how the brain learns.
  • Discuss the idea that your brain is like a muscle that grows with exercise and effort and that everyone has the ability to learn. Emphasize that the idea that one's abilities are fixed and not able to grow or change is simply not scientifically correct.
  • Discuss the kinds of things you can say to each other that are more in line with a growth-oriented mindset and more motivating for everyone; brainstorm a list.

Suggested review

  • Students retake the online growth mindset evaluation taken at the beginning of the activity and compare their before-and-after results.
  • Discuss the effects of adopting a growth-oriented mindset for you and other students and how students can continue promoting a growth-oriented mindset in school and beyond.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

A growth-oriented mindset, the understanding that intelligence and abilities are qualities everyone can develop through effort has been shown to have powerful effects on student motivation, learning, and academic success. Providing regular growth mindset oriented feedback on student effort can support and sustain this powerfully positive and motivating perspective on learning.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn this micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in applying a growth-oriented mindset to improve learning? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the growth mindset activities and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (such as links to writing, audio, images, video, and other media) that demonstrate progress toward the growth mindset competency, including such items as pre and post growth mindset evaluations, audio or video examples of students and teachers using growth mindset messages, reflections on the value of having a growth mindset, or other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit student-created reflections on their experience of the growth mindset activities. Use the following questions as a guide (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the growth mindset activities help you understand that learning is a result of effort and not fixed talents?
  • How did the growth mindset strategies change your attitude toward learning and the possibilities for your future?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as a guide (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the growth mindset activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily teaching practice in the future?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Growth Mindset
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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