Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day…

…For Teaching ELL, ESL, & EFL

July 9, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Two New Videos From RSA — Carol Dweck & Ken Robinson

RSA from The United Kingdom is particularly knows for their “graphic recording” of talks that take place there (the one they did of Dan Pink talking about “Drive” is my favorite).

They just released a short one of those animated videos, this one a short snippet of a talk by Ken Robinson. I’ve embedded it below — it’s nice, but to tell you the truth, I’m not sure there’s much “there there,” unlike in his other talks. Of course, it just two-and-a-half minutes long :)

Of more interest, though, is the non-animated video (also embedded below) that they put on the web of Carol Dweck’s talk there that took place….yesterday (they sure don’t waste time). It’s an hour-long, and it’s nice that they have close-ups of all her slides. I’ve just started watching it. So far, it sounds like a basic review of her work. Even if that is just the case, it’s still interesting!

I’m adding that video to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

June 20, 2013
by Larry Ferlazzo

Interesting New Study By Carol Dweck


Readers of this blog are no strangers to the work of Carol Dweck, and you can find a collection of resources related to her work at The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Professor Dweck and her colleagues have just published a new study that builds on her previous work and specifically relates it to reducing aggressive behavior by teenagers. Happily, the paper is not behind a paywall. It’s title is a long one — An Implicit Theories of Personality Intervention Reduces Adolescent Aggression in Response to Victimization and Exclusion.

You can also read a short summary of it by Art Markman.

Here is my brief summary (which I am very open to being critiqued and corrected) and my key “take-aways”:

Professor Dweck is known for, among other findings, developing the concepts of incremental mindset — that people’s traits can change over time — and an entity mindset — where traits are fixed. Many educators, including me, have used her research in the classroom in changing the kind of feedback we give students and in helping them see the physical changes caused in the brain by learning new things (my previously mentioned “The Best…” list give far more details).

In this new study (which focused on dealing with the effects of bullying), Professor Dweck and her colleagues taught six brief sessions to students elaborating on the incremental mindset, and found that they were less likely to react aggressively to bullying and, in general, behaved more appropriately in the classroom. They appeared to believe that neither the supposed reason behind their being targeted and the beliefs of the bullies themselves would be permanent, and tended to be less depressed. Here are some key excerpts:

…our results suggest that an incremental theory may predispose students to behave resiliently when situations of exclusion or victimization arise….

Our findings can inform theories of how social cognitive development can influence adolescent aggression. Past research has suggested that adolescents show an increased belief in the fixed nature of transgressors’ traits and behaviors (e.g., Killen et al., 2010). Relatedly, the early years of high school are a time of heighted social comparison, where one’s social label (especially if it is seen as a fixed label) can be a source of pride or shame, and therefore a powerful influence on how one copes with peer conflict (e.g., Brown, Mory, & Kinney, 1994; Crosnoe, 2011; Eccles & Barber, 1999). Overall, adolescence was predicted to be a special period during which beliefs about the potential for people to change their personal characteristics could play a particularly important role in aggressive retaliation….

Peer victimization or exclusion, as we have noted, can also lead to depression and other internalizing symptoms, and previous correlational research has suggested that this is especially likely when children hold more of an entity theory (Rudolph, 2010). Our experimental study showed that an incremental theory intervention could buffer adolescents from the effects of peer victimization. When adolescents who reported higher levels of victimization were taught to see themselves and others as capable of change, they reported fewer depressive symptoms compared with adolescents who received no treatment.

That’s what the study says about victims. I found what it says about the bullies themselves even more interesting:

One extension of this research is to test whether implicit theories might also be a cause of bullying itself. It may be the case that some students bully others to validate themselves and their status, a motivation that may well be fostered by an entity view of the self. Indeed, adolescents who believe that there are fixed “winners” and “losers” may well wish to place themselves among the “winners” and use bullying as a tool for doing so. Thus, it may be interesting in future investigations to determine whether the present study’s incremental theory intervention would reduce bullying.

One nice “bonus” is that the paper provides a fairly detailed description of the curriculum used to teach the incremental mindset.

For my work in the classroom, the bottom line of the study is that it reinforces the importance of teaching the lessons found on The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset” list, and exploring how I can expand them a bit by reflecting on the ideas in this paper.

I’m eager to hear the reactions of others….

November 9, 2012
by Larry Ferlazzo

New Study Finds That Specific Praise Improves Performance — Have They Ever Heard Of Carol Dweck?

A new study has been receiving some media attention for showing that praising someone’s athletic performance results in….their improving their performance. Interestingly, even though it’s clear in the study that the praise is very specific about what was being done, the researchers don’t seem to even highlight that point — they just say that praising someone is successful.

Of course, any research that reinforces what we teachers know is good practice is welcome, but, really, haven’t these folks ever heard of Carol Dweck?

It’s good to know about this new research, but I don’t think it’s even worth putting on The Best Resources For Learning How To Best Give Feedback To Students.

November 27, 2011
by Larry Ferlazzo
1 Comment

Thoughts On Today’s NY Times Column By Carol Dweck

I’m a fan of much of Professor Carol Dweck’s work, and have often written in this blog (and in my book) about how I’ve applied her research in the classroom, especially around praising effort instead of intelligence.

A few months ago, though, I heard about one of her recent research projects that bothered me a bit, and, then, today, I saw a column she co-wrote about it in The New York Times. It’s titled “Willpower: It’s in Your Head.”

In it, she challenges the research findings of Professor Roy F. Baumeister, another researcher whose work has influenced my teaching practice. Professor Baumeister has written a great deal about self-control, and I wrote a piece in Education Week about how I apply his findings in the classroom — he also contributed a guest commentary.

Basically, Professor Baumeister (and many others) have concluded that self-control is a resource that can be depleted, and needs to be periodically replenished. Professor Dweck claims that it only is depleted if you believe it needs to be replenished.

That’s a very simplified summary, and I’d encourage you to read both her piece and Professor Baumeister’s commentary to get a more amplified view, as well as learning more how I interpret it for classroom use.

I’m all for having a “growth mindset,” which is another concept that Professor Dweck is known for and which I use with my students. However, especially with adolescents, it seems to me that we need to recognize that our students are not Supermen or Superwomen, and it’s unlikely that many — if any — have an unlimited level of self-control. My students and I have found Professor Baumeister’s research very useful and I have often seen it work effectively.  The key, of course, is that we need to help our students develop effective strategies to replenish their capacity for self-control.

Earlier this morning, I contacted Professor Baumeister to get his reactions to the critique. Here is his response (and he granted permission for me to share it here):

[Many] things can make a difference right at the beginning of depletion, when you’re only slightly depleted. we have replicated her finding that getting people to believe in unlimited willpower makes them do better when they are slightly depleted. but that same manipulation actually makes them do worse when they are severely depleted.

What do you think?

October 9, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

SEL Weekly Update

I’ve recently begun this weekly post where I’ll be sharing resources I’m adding to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources or other related “Best” lists:

Stop Warming Up, Start Learning Up is by Daniel Coyle, and he uses Stephen Curry as an example of how to best “warm-up.” I’m adding it to The Best Ways To Use Stephen Curry & The Warriors For Teaching Social Emotional Learning Skills.

This Is How To Resist Distraction: 4 Secrets To Remarkable Focus is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree. I’m adding it to The Best Posts About Helping Students Develop Their Capacity For Self-Control.

Distracted much? New research may help explain why is from Science Daily. I’m adding it to the same list.

How Microsoft Uses a Growth Mindset to Develop Leaders is by Carol Dweck. I’m adding it to The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset.”

Emotion, Sociality, and the Brain’s Default Mode Network meanders a bit, but provides many research insights into Social Emotional Learning. I’m adding it to The Best Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Resources.

Creating Healthy Schools: Ten Key Ideas for the SEL and School Climate Community is from The American Institutes For Research. I’m adding it to the same list.

Nonprofit Receives $1M Grant to Help Support Social, Emotional Learning is from Ed Week.

July 18, 2016
by Larry Ferlazzo

Opportunities & Dangers Of Big New Growth Mindset Study

Danger Deep WaterCreative Commons License Michael Reilly via Compfight

As regular readers know, I’m a big fan of the growth mindset concept (see The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”) , though not entirely an uncritical one (see Our Students Are Not Supermen & Superwomen and The Limits To The Power Of A Growth Mindset (& The Dangers When We Don’t Recognize Them) )

Carol Dweck, Susana Claro and PERTS Lab founder David Paunesku just published a big new study – today – on the use of a growth mindset with students in country of Chile.

Education Week has a nice summary of it. You can read the study here, though it’s behind a paywall.

My layperson’s analysis of it is that it offers, as this blog post’s headline says, “opportunities and dangers.”


It certainly provides support to those of us who want to spend time in the classroom teaching about and reinforcing a growth mindset with our students.  The study says that students having a growth mindset  from families with an income in the lowest ten percentile achieved comparable test scores to students with a fixed mindset who came from families with the 80th family income percentile.

That seemed way too good to be true, even for a believer like me.  I wondered if, perhaps, one factor mitigating this kind of leap could be if income inequality was considerably less there than here (that issue has been found to influence many aspects of people’s lives – see The Best Resources About Wealth & Income Inequality — Help Me Create A Simple Lesson Plan Using Them).  Much to my surprise, I learned that Chile is one of the few countries in the world with a higher degree of income equality than the United States!

So, unless I’m missing something, and I’m open to being told I am, it seems like an impressive result demonstrating the potential positive impact of emphasizing a growth mindset in school.

The study also found that “the lowest-income Chilean students were twice as likely as the highest income students to report a fixed mindset…” It suggests that, as other research has shown (see The Best Articles About The Study Showing Social Emotional Learning Isn’t Enough ), some of the difficulties some people who come from low-income communities have in applying certain Social Emotional Learning skills to academic endeavors are as a consequence of the socio-economic challenges they face, not the other way around.  I do wish, though, the researchers had put a little more “meat” into that explanation.


Unfortunately, the “Let Them Eat Character” crowd could very well use these kinds of results to push for growth-mindset lessons instead of providing adequate support for schools, students and their families.

The researchers end with – what seems to me, at least – this attempt to inoculate themselves against being accused of supporting that kind of strategy:

“To be clear, we are not suggesting that structural factors, like income inequality or disparities in school quality, are less important than psychological factors. Nor are we saying that teaching students a growth mindset is a substitute for systemic efforts to alleviate poverty and economic inequality. Such claims would stand at odds with decades of research and our own data. Rather, we are suggesting that structural inequalities can give rise to psychological inequalities and that those psychological inequalities can reinforce the impact of structural inequalities on achievement and future opportunity. As such, research on psychological factors can help illuminate one set of processes through which economic disadvantage leads to academic underachievement and reveal ways to more effectively support students who face additional challenges because of their socioeconomic circumstances.”

I’m not sure when your entire paper can be easily interpreted as saying that having a growth mindset can eliminate most of the achievement (or better, “opportunity”) gap, this short paragraph is enough…

If you can get though the paywall, or if you can at least read the Ed Week summary, let me know what you think of my analysis….


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