Research has proven the words we use to encourage students when focused on the process can turn a fixed mindset into a growth mindset.
Often when we hear about successful individuals we hear about their final product- the record they broke, the award they won, or the new position they attained. Their success sometimes seems automatic and inevitable, especially to children. What we don’t hear enough about is the process- the the ups and downs, the wins and losses, the perseverance and effort it took to achieve that success.
The process for many things can be frustrating, especially when dealing with challenging tasks. To help our students remain persistent, resilient and focused during their process of learning we need to provide them with feedback that uses growth-minded language. When our feedback focuses on the process students took to get to a result, they can more clearly see how their effort has an impact on the final product.
Person Praise vs. Process Praise
Person praise focuses on the student’s individual qualities and traits, such as intelligence. Process praise acknowledges the student’s effort, strategies, or actions that contributed to the success of the task.
If you are at the beginning of your mindset journey, I highly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this.
In the video Carol Dweck shares the impact she found that process praise had on students. The subtle difference in language used had an amazing impact in students’ performance!
“Making an effort to focus our praise on the process, rather than the person, has the potential to foster a growth mindsets among your students. It demonstrates to students that learning is a set of processes, not a natural gift available only to some. Your process-oriented praise will help support student learning goals.” -Taken from In Other Words: Phrases for Growth Mindset.
To see process praise in action check out this quick, informative video of a 1st grade teacher praising the process during a writer’s workshop lesson.
Teaching Students the Value of Feedback
Process praise is not just teacher talk. When your students hear you using it, they will begin to internalize it. It will become their internal dialogue and the language they use when giving feedback to their classmates. But you can go beyond just modeling the language! There are also some great activities you can use to introduce process praise to your own students and I’m eager to share with you today!
Thanks for the Feedback!
In this lesson students will understand why feedback is useful and learn how to give constructive, effective feedback to others.
I start this activity by explicitly defining feedback for my students.
I explain that feedback is information that can help you improve and grow. It can be positive like a compliment or negative like a critique.
I then read Thanks for the Feedback, I Think, a book about a boy who isn’t sure how to respond to positive and negative feedback.
As a class, we take a close look at page 20 and discuss the following:
- What do you see in the picture?
- Why does RJ’s dad tell him that feedback is a good thing?
- How is feedback information that helps you grow?
In Part 2 of the lesson students get the chance to practice giving constructive feedback to their peers.
I pass out a blank sheet of paper and give them a limited amount of time to illustrate a picture. (You can give them free choice on what to draw or assign a topic like a self-portrait.)
Once time is up, I introduce them to this Praise Feedback stems poster.
Students then partner up and one shares their work while the other offers praise feedback.
I have my students discuss orally, but for older students you could have them write their thoughts on a post-it before sharing with their partner.
Next, I introduce the Critique Feedback stems.
Remind them that when others offer us critique feedback, it allows us to get better, learn and grow. Then repeat the process and allow students to offer each other a criticism of their drawing.
End the lesson by asking the students to reflect on the following questions:
- How did it feel when your partner was giving you praise on your work?
- Was it easy or hard for you to hear your partner’s critiques?
- Why is it important to be open to hearing feedback from others?
This is just a tiny glimpse of 1 lesson and activity included in my Growth Mindset Activities and Lessons. The resource has everything needed to cultivate a growth mindset in each of your students! It includes easy to implement explicit lesson plans, research based, hands on learning activities, and differentiated student response printables, notes for the teacher, (informative mindset education) as well as an editable letter to involve and educate families about the growth mindset culture you will establish with your students. Take a closer look down below!
To keep students persevering through the challenges faced in the growth-minded classroom, we must provide them with feedback along the way. Students will internalize the language we use as we guide and support them through the learning process. It is my hope that this language will become the inner dialogue they carry with them as they move forward in learning and life!