Developing a Growth Mindset in Students through STEM Education

A growth mindset is the belief that one’s abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work, perseverance, and learning from failure. This mindset is especially important for students, as it can help them overcome challenges, learn from mistakes, and ultimately achieve their goals. In the field of STEM education, where complex concepts and problem-solving skills are often required, having a growth mindset is essential for success. By instilling a growth mindset in students early on, parents and educators can help them develop the skills and attitudes needed to thrive academically and beyond. In this article, we will explore the science behind a growth mindset, strategies for encouraging it in students, resources for educators, and how STEM education can be used to foster this mindset in students.

The Science Behind a Growth Mindset

There have been studies around growth mindsets and the impact it has on student success. Psychologist Carol Dweck conducted a study at Fiske Elementary School. Over a three year period, educators at Fiske Elementary School focused on developing a growth mindset in their students. This included training for teachers and creating a growth focused environment for students. The study found that while state standardized math test results stayed stagnant over the three year period, Fiske Elementary School saw increased performance on the same standardized math tests after their focus shifted to developing growth mindsets in students. 

This study demonstrated potential student success linked to having a classroom where a growth mindset is encouraged and educators help students expand this thought process. In recent years, there has been a focus around educator training on the growth mindset to properly support students in developing this mindset and harboring the most successful classroom environment.

Strategies for Encouraging a Growth Mindset in Your Students

As educators, it is important to create a classroom environment that supports and nurtures a growth mindset. Below is a list of strategies educators can use to encourage students to have a growth mindset.

  • Encourage students to have a positive attitude when addressing and overcoming challenges.
  • Emphasize the value of effort and persistence in the classroom and in life. 
  • Provide constructive feedback and teach students that criticism is an opportunity to learn and strengthen their skills. 
  • Praise students for their successes and improvements. 
  • Teach students about the brain’s ability to grow and change. 
  • Create opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes and improve based on their new knowledge. 
  • Allow time for students to reflect after each lesson. 
  • Establish an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions, failing, and trying again.
  • Give students the tools they need to change their language to reflect their new growth mindset. 
  • Have a growth mindset students can look up to and use as a mentor.

Supporting Resilience and Perseverance

A major aspect of a successful growth mindset is having resilience and perseverance when tackling new challenges or tasks that are difficult. Resilience and perseverance are two skills/personality traits beneficial for children to develop young; They will help them throughout their education, in their future careers, and in their daily lives. Below are possible ways educators and parents can help support children in being resilient and teaching them how to persevere through adversity. 

  • Show students how to set achievable, incremental goals. Many find it beneficial to use the SMART goal setting process. 
  • Encourage collaboration and peer support during STEM lessons.
  • Incorporate real-world challenges into classroom curriculum. 
  • Give students time to strengthen their problem-solving skills during lessons.
  • Allow for multiple attempts and revisions. 
  • Provide opportunities for reflection and questions at the end of each lesson. 
  • Utilize pre-tests, post-tests, and self-assessments.

Growth Mindset Resources for Educators

The first step in instilling a growth mindset in students is to have educators who have a growth mindset they can share with their classroom. Many teachers find it beneficial to use resources and courses to help them develop this state of mind. For some, it may come naturally and the growth mindset is something they already have. For others, it is something they will have to work harder at. Regardless of starting point, educators who are willing to put in the work to grow their mindset are going to be successful not only in their role but in teaching their students how to have a growth mindset as well. 

Below is a list of the many resources available to educators who are looking to learn more about how to develop a growth mindset. 

  • Big Life Journal: A journaling tool to help reframe mindset and focus on positive growth rather than short comings. 
  • Skill Packs Growth Mindset Action Planner: The Skill Packs Action Planner gives tools and strategies on how to shift your mindset. This can be used as a guiding force over multiple weeks and helps to track progress.


How STEM Curriculum Encourages a Growth Mindset

STEM Sports® is an education company that uses sports as a facilitator of STEM curricula for K-8 students. Each lesson uses a different aspect of sports to teach students real world skills they can apply to their everyday lives. 

The STEM Sports® curriculum utilizes the Engineering Design Process (EDP). This commonly used process among engineers can be used to help students develop a growth mindset. Throughout the EDP, students are encouraged to ask questions, think critically, and try multiple times until they succeed. The curriculum also includes a mindfulness component, Mindfulness Matters, that educators can use before students start their first lesson. This is intended to help students frame their mindset and go into their learning process with confidence, clarity, and a willingness to learn.

Growth Mindset STEM Curriculum by STEM Sports

Developing a growth mindset in students is crucial for their success, particularly in STEM education. Through the strategies and resources outlined in this article, educators and parents can create a positive and growth-focused learning environment that encourages students to persevere through challenges, learn from their mistakes, and ultimately reach their full potential. By instilling a growth mindset in students early on, we can help prepare them for a lifetime of learning and success. With the right mindset and support, anything is possible!

The STEM Sports® curriculum is a great way for educators to help their students develop a growth mindset and improve their STEM literacy. If you are an educator looking to develop a growth mindset in your classroom through STEM learning, click here to explore STEM Sports® curricula.

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