Growth Mindset

The following was written by Haley Rietman, The Learning Center’s Program Assistant.

Haley grew up in San Diego, CA. She also attended college in Southern California at Chapman University where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Haley is currently in school at USF pursuing her Masters in Counseling Psychology. Haley hopes that through her work in the Learning Center, she will be able to encourage students to achieve their academic goals which will in turn benefit their overall success.  Haley’s passions include traveling, exercising, and reading and when she has spare time she likes to explore San Francisco.



We are almost halfway through the semester here at USF. It is already March and
midterms are upon us. With that being said, I want to stress the importance of keeping a
growth mindset. Typically, when we think of mindset, we hear of two different types: fixed and
An individual with a fixed mindset believes that skills and intelligence are set from birth,
you either have them or you don’t. They believe that you are not in control of your abilities. An
individual with a growth mindset believes the opposite: each individual is in control of their own
abilities. They believe that skills are built with hard work and they have the power to improve
their learning and grow their skills.
Growth mindset has the power to change the way you learn. Professor Carol Dweck has
done numerous studies on how two people with similar talents will come to achieve different
results based solely on their mindsets. Dweck and her team have found that beliefs and focus
are the major characteristics of mindset. Individuals with a growth mindset first believe that
they can improve and second, focus on the process of improving rather than the outcome.
Dweck’s team has also identified four key components to growth. The first is effort; individuals
with a growth mindset believe that in order to grow, you must put effort into your work. The
second is how one sees challenges. Challenges should be embraced and be understood as an
opportunity to improve. The third component is mistakes. Individuals with a growth mindset
see mistakes as a way to improve learning. The last component is feedback; in order to fully
grasp a growth mindset, feedback must be embraced with the ultimate purpose of improving
the process.
You might have read the previous paragraph and thought “I already encompass these
characteristics.” There are however, some misconceptions when it comes to the growth
mindset. They are as follows:
 Myth: Being positive, flexible, and/or open-minded is the same as having a growth
o Fact: Positivity, flexibility, and open-mindedness are qualities that one has
always had. The path to achieving a growth mindset is intentional. Everyone has
a mixture of a growth and fixed mindset depending on the realm of their
thoughts. Some may have a growth mindset in regards to statistics, however, be
fixed in economics.

 Myth: Growth mindset is just about rewarding effort.
o Fact: The ultimate goal is that these efforts are yielding positive results. So yes,
trying new strategies, seeking help from others, and learning from mistakes are
important however, unproductive effort is never the goal.
 Myth: As soon as you embrace a growth mindset, good things will happen
o Fact: Developing a growth mindset takes time and there is room for regression
as well. Challenges, criticism, and negative environments can cause setbacks.
The best way to avoid this is to be aware of what may set you back and continue
to strive for improvement.

Adapted from: Dweck, C. S. (2016). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York:
Ballantine Books.
So, as you work through your midterms, try and shift your fixed mindsets into growth mindsets.
Strive for progress, not perfection, and remember, this is a process. Starting to reframe your
mindsets now will only help you in the future.