Have you ever felt like you just don’t seem to have the motivation to study at all (even though you know you have to do it)?
We have all been there.
Having read and written study skills for quite a few years now, I realized that one impediment that a lot of students are encountering is not the lack of skills and ability, but their mindset.
In a few previous posts, I have covered a bit about mindsets and attitude as a pre-condition to success.
Knowing that a lot of students struggle with motivation, I decide to go much more in-depth and talk detailedly to you about how your thinking can change your grades.
Yes, this is how powerful your thinking is.
You may have thought that you don’t seem to get good grades because you are not smart enough. Or, you may think that you are naturally lazy.
What if I tell you, your thinking is fully in control of how well you can be?
I am here to tell you all about the growth mindset for students, which is exactly what you need to achieve academic excellence and improvements.
What is the Growth Mindset for Students?
The term growth mindset is first introduced by Carol Dweck. Dr. Dweck uses the term growth mindset and fixed mindset to talk about students’ attitude towards learning and intelligence.
To put it in the simplest way, a growth mindset for students means that you believe intelligence and academic performance can be developed. You see your effort is the key to success.
With a growth mindset, you strive to achieve more because you believe that effort matters.
On the contrary, if you have a fixed mindset, you will think that you can’t change your intelligence and you think people who can succeed are just smart. You see putting effort as a sign of weakness and low ability.
But here’s the thing. You can actually get smarter.
Yes, you can. Research has shown that we can change increase our neural growth by taking actions, like practicing and using good strategies.
That means that with hard work, you can actually be more intelligent.
So, if you thought that intelligence is fixed, and achievements only depend on how smart you are, think again.
So how can I change my mindset to the growth mindset for students?
You may wonder, what difference can have by maintaining a growth mindset for students?
Apparently, it is reported by having a growth mindset, it can have a significant impact on our actions and behaviors, resulting in increased motivation and achievements. This will be clearly evident in your grades.
Isn’t it amazing how just one thought can lead to overall improvement?
That’s why I want to introduce you to three rules that would help you develop and maintain the growth mindset for students:
Rule #1: You Are in Charge of Your Thinking and Feelings.
You may feel like you can’t change your IQ, or you can’t change how competitive the environment is. Or, you feel so powerlessness having to study things you do not like. Perhaps it’s because you don’t like a particular subject, or you don’t like studying at all, you just don’t seem to get good grades in those subjects.
You have, however, underestimated your power.
You are in charge of changing your thinking. If you think differently, you will feel in a totally different way regarding your studies. And, you will be able to act differently and get a different result.
Not sure what I mean?
Now let’s take the following as an example.
Circumstances: You have a huge math test next week, and you got a C on your last test.
Now what a demotivated student would think:
- Your thinking: I am not good at maths. I won’t get a good grade this time anyway.
- Your feeling: stressed and demotivated
- Your action: You are not willing to put much effort into the test.
- Results: You continued to get poorer grades.
What you should think instead:
- Your thinking: I may not be very good at math, but I know that practice makes perfect. I can improve as long as I put effort into it.
- Your feeling: motivated and willing to give it a try
- Your action: You attempt to do practice papers, ask your friends when you don’t know how to work out certain problems, and take notes of what you have done wrong and constantly practice.
- Results: You improved and got better grades.
This is the difference between a positive attitude and a negative one. Since your thinking is tied to your feeling, and it is then tied to your action and ultimately your results, your thinking can really change everything.
Just by changing the way to perceive and think about something, you will get a totally different feeling, action, and result.
ACTION POINT: Now here’s what I want you to do in order to reroute your thinking and to have greater achievements.
- Think about circumstances that you think as negative and that discourage you.
- Try to reroute your thinking. Think with the growth mindset for students – that you can improve your intelligence and performance.
- Describe how you feel when you think in this positive way.
- Write down some corresponding actions that you are going to take.
- Set a goal for the result you want to achieve.
Rule #2: You Never Failed.
You thought you failed because you get a poor grade on your last exam?
No, you never did.
Why? Because you can never fail. Failure only happens in the brain.
You only fail because you think you did. Because you interpret the incident as a failure of yours. This is what your mind tells you.
What if you can change that?
What if you can tell yourself that, I didn’t fail, and there is nothing wrong with me. It’s not that I am not smart enough, or that I am not hardworking enough.
It’s just that I need to give it one more try.
You may have heard this a lot already: failure paths our way to success. It sounds cliche, but it is really true. All successful people and students failed in some circumstances. They may fail in a school test, or others may fail when they are studying and working on practice papers.
But they accept it since they have the growth mindset for students.
Instead of escaping from the problem telling themselves that they are simply not good at it, they actively find out the root of the problem and try to rectify it.
They are willing to pay more effort to improve themselves so that they can succeed next time.
Successful students are willing to put more effort before exams. They understand that they may fail, so they make sure that failure happens before the exam (i.e. when they are studying and working on past papers) so they can understand why the fail.
When the big day comes, they have failed enough that they know exactly how they can do well to succeed.
ACTION POINT: Because of that, I want you to do two things.
- Stop beating yourself up for your past failures. You didn’t fail. It’s just the way you interpret it.
- Think about how you can improve and succeed next time. If you don’t want to fail in the exam, think about how you can fail before the exam and understand why you fail so that you can avoid those mistakes in the exam.
You may ask, how can I achieve the second point? Here are some suggestions.
- Don’t be afraid of mistakes and failures. It happens naturally. The one thing you can do is to practice enough and study enough (in the right way) so that you are prepared for it.
- Learn from feedback. This is more than important. Learn from your mistakes, and this is how you can improve. With the growth mindset for students, you are more likely to take feedback positively as a way to help you improve.
- Practice makes perfect. Make yourself fail before the real thing.
- If you have a presentation, practice it with your family and friends so many times before the actual thing so that you are prepared for it. You may have failed during the practices, but then you will know your weakness and will learn how you can avoid it on the day of the presentation.
- Similarly, for studying, you can do lots of practice questions and papers to understand your mistakes before going to the exam.
Rule #3: You Need to be Confident with Yourself.
Confidence is not about thinking that everything you do is perfect and you can win over everyone else.
It’s about believing in your ability, and have confidence in yourself that you are capable of greater achievements.
At times of intensive competitions, it is so easy to compare yourself with others and doubt your ability. It may even stop you from putting hard work into it thinking that you will never be able to be just as good as others.
However, believing in your ability is so important because it is what prompts you to be motivated, to strive for excellence, and to stop comparing yourself with others.
Because you know that you are capable and you focus on your own improvements.
Ultimately, confidence comes from the two rules I mentioned above, that is, to be in charge of your thinking (and stop thinking negatively), and to accept failures. Instead of letting failures and negative thoughts stopping you from achieving more, you let them be great lessons to learn from and you trust in your ability – so you continuously put effort into it.
When you are working on an essay, instead of thinking “I am average, that’s all I can do with it”, think about: perhaps this is not good enough. I can do even better. How can I improve?
ACTION POINT: To sum up what confidence really is in one sentence, it’s turning inaction to action.
- When you are thinking about whether to study for the test or not, affirm yourself that your effort matters and start studying (and this is what the growth mindset for students is about!).
- When you are thinking about joining this competition or not fearing that you will lose, just do it.
The Key Mindset You Need to Have
Remember, real motivation does not come from external inspiration like pictures of others studying, that is short-term motivation.
Where motivation and persistence come from is the way you perceive the circumstances you encounter, the so-called failures and mistakes, and your own ability.
Generally, real motivation comes from the growth mindset for students -the belief that you can improve your intelligence and performance.
I Can Tell You How Powerful My Thinking Is.
Before I end this tutorial, I want to tell you about my story.
When I was in my first two years of high school, I was stressed. I felt like everyone around me are so much smarter, hard-working and capable, and I couldn’t catch up at all.
I studied a lot, I worked really hard, but I hated every moment of it.
During the summer of my third year, I started to think…
Perhaps I can achieve something more. I shouldn’t be satisfied with just being average or just passing.
That thought changed everything.
I started studying in the summer. (Yes, summer. That sounds very nerdy, I know.) I didn’t think about the grades I will get or anything like that, nor do I feel the stress and pressure to study.
I study because I know that I can see improvements in myself if I do so. And I trust myself that I can do it.
The result? You guessed it. My academic performance improves so much in my last two years of high school. I got to the university and program I wanted, and I achieved so much more things than I could imagine, like representing my country to participate in an international science competition in Denmark and won the champion.
Not only did I get better grades, I am also genuinely more confident and happy with my life. I want that to happen to you too.
I don’t want you to see studying as a difficult task, but a way to empower yourself to achieve what you want.
And that’s what can be achieved with the above three rules.
Want to remember all of these?
I know it’s not easy to change your mindset just by reading it once. That’s why you can download a free summary that has all the key information and takeaway of this article.
In addition, to help you rewire your thinking and keep reminding yourself of the growth mindset, you can use the worksheet to write down a circumstance you encounter and think about how you can think about it in a growth mindset.
All you need to do is to click the image below to download it!
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