As you watch your student taking their Peaksmart quizzes, you've probably noticed the Peaksmart goat praising your child's efforts as they progress through the quiz.
Praising your student when they do well is always a good thing, right? It can be, but the way in which you offer the praise can surprisingly have unintended side-effects. According to Carol S. Dweck, a social psychology professor at Stanford, and author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, the way we praise children can instill in them a "fixed" mindset or a "growth" mindset.
A "fixed" mindset relates to a person's belief in their innate abilities. If a student does well and their parent or teacher praises them with phrases like "you are so smart" or "you are a genius", this can reinforce the child's belief that they are naturally intelligent. Surprisingly, this can prevent some kids from trying harder problems for fear of risking failure. In fact, some children that believe they are smart will purposely avoid situations in which they might fail .
On the other hand, a "growth" mindset can be instilled in students by praising the child's effort or hard work. This type of praise has been shown by Prof. Dweck and others to help children become more adaptable and less fearful of failure. The end result is a student that achieves more than one whose intelligence is praised directly. Students instilled with a "growth" mindset are less stressful of setbacks and failure and see them more as opportunities for improvement.
Some valid ways to praise include, based on Prof. Dweck's research :
- praising the approach or strategy ("You figured out an good way to solve this problem!")
- praising specific actions ("You scored very well on the quiz!")
- praising hard work or effort ("You really practiced these math facts!")
The Peaksmart team has taken care to ensure that we praise the child's effort as they work through their quiz problems. We want to see our Peaksmarters full of confidence in their abilities to work hard and increase their math skills without fear of failure.