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Growth Mindsets and Academic Mindsets at RVC

Academic Mindsets & Non-Cognitive Factors

Academic Mindsets and non-cognitive Factors are the building blocks to embracing a learner identity. A learner identity is paramount in humans seeing themselves as learners capable of growth. Identifying as a learner supports us in cultivating a growth mindset, which is crucial to positive self-talk and image. Embracing and practicing the 4 academic mindsets supports a sense of belonging, meaning, and purpose and provides the necessary tools/strategies in challenging circumstances. The focus on deliberate practice and effort proves that one can succeed.


A visual representation of the academic mindsets and non-cognitive factors that are the building blocks to embracing a learner identity.

Why does this matter?

A graph that helps illustrate how mindsets and beliefs can influence your academic performance and vice versa.





Opportunities are boundless when you believe in your abilities and feel like you belong. 


What does the research say?



Gordon's Ladder represents how deliberate practice supports the growth of new knowledge and skills. Essentially, as neurons fire together they wire together, our goal is to deepen that connection so that the new skill and knowledge becomes second nature. If academic mindsets and non-cognitive factors are cultivated and believed in, human are more likely to continue their progression along the ladder. If the opposite occurs, we will most likely give up at the conscious competence stage, especially if the newly acquired skill or knowledge takes more effort than we are willing to give. We give up because it is too hard. Believing in the 4 academic mindsets and non-cognitive factors equips us with the strategies to persevere despite hardship.





Camille Farrington's work from UChicago also highlights the importance of cultivating environments that support a learner identity with academic mindsets and non-cognitive factors as the foundation. Cultivating mindsets is the core of what we do. The journey may not be easy, but it is well worth it and these mindsets will continue with them as they grow through their experiences into adulthood. 

These mindsets, dispositions, and beliefs are how we strive to cultivate happy, healthy children who can adapt to the most challenging situations socially and academically.

Ultimately, the goal of education is two-fold: First, to learn how to learn. Second, to develop autonomy. Academic and growth mindsets support us in this journey. We begin to believe in our efforts and deepen our self-efficacy, believing we can impact change for ourselves.





Carol Dweck’s research on attribution theory, what people attribute their failures and successes to and how it will make a difference in their actions, is at the core of a growth mindset. 

If people believe their efforts make a difference, they will keep going. This is true even if they only see success 50% of the time.

Interestingly, this concept of cognitive bias can impact how we view ourselves in the world, especially regarding a growth mindset. Cognitive bias-if you believe something is true the world will comply with what you see-if you believe it is authentic you will see this in the world.

So, if you believe in fixed mindsets then you will see it all the time, if you believe in a growth mindset you will always see growth. Once you believe in a growth mindset it will influence every aspect of your life. It is a number one predictor of someone's success and happiness, the idea that one can grow one's abilities with one's efforts.

The Feedback that Feeds Forward


Shifting feedback to information that feeds forward is essential in the abovementioned growth model. We move from giving feedback on the past to focusing on future actions we can control. In this feedback model, learners regenerate their talent, expand possibilities, and continually challenge themselves in a continuous improvement cycle. A central premise of this work is to reframe mistakes as an opportunity to grow.  In addition, learners can reside within the practice zone where specific feedback is provided to support growth. Eduardo Birceno explains how to reverse the impact of performance on getting better at something. 


For further information, a curated list of resources was culled for our community.

We hope you have the opportunity to learn alongside us!