The perils and promises of praise
Posted by Dean Holden at March 10th, 2013
by Dr. Carol S. Dweck, October 2007, Volume 65, Number 2
Educators commonly believe that praising students’ intelligence builds their confidence and motivation to learn and that students’ inherent intelligence is the major cause of their school achievement. The author’s research shows that, on the contrary, praising students’ intelligence can be problematic. Praise is intricately connected to how students view their intelligence. Some students assume that intellectual ability is a fixed trait, that either they have it or they don’t. Students in this fixed mind-set seek tasks that prove their intelligence and avoid ones that they might struggle with. Praising students for their intelligence tends to promote the fixed mind-set. Other students believe that they can develop their intellectual ability through effort and education. They take on challenges and learn from them. Praising students for their effort encourages this growth mind-set. Interventions that make students aware of the plasticity of the brain and the malleable quality of intelligence motivate students by boosting their confidence in their ability to grow and learn.
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