Strategic Use of Mindset and Efficacy Theory

Strategic Use of Mindset and Efficacy Theory

Linda Gordon (Florida Atlantic University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch118


Achievement theory and goal orientation have wide-ranging implications for every human endeavor because they speak to the motivation and responses to challenges that every person encounters. From the classroom professor to the operations manager, there is a need to understand the interaction of people's mindsets regarding achievement, and how those may influence the goals they set. Additionally, the interaction of the mindset, goal, and challenges that occur, creates responses as varied as quitting to responding with redoubled effort. After understanding this mechanism of motivation, leaders will need concrete practices that orient students/employees/volunteers towards mindsets and goals that enhance effort and perseverance while minimizing the practices that result in individuals giving up. This chapter will draw from the theories of Carol Dweck and Albert Bandura to provide a theoretical framework for the strategic design and implementation of practices to enhance positive goal setting and responses when the going gets tough.
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Theoretical Framework

The social cognitive theorists Carol Dweck and Albert Bandura each provide methods to consider the motivation of people in the face of challenge that provide insights into the interactions that either support or hinder motivation and perseverance. A starting point is Dweck’s theory on mindset, since every person has a mindset that impacts how they look at goals and challenge. Dweck’s theory is that there are two basic types of mindset. In the first, people believe that they were born with a certain intelligence level and certain talents and those features of themselves are not changeable. The fixed mindset person believes that any weaknesses are evidence of a lack of some form of talent and are to be avoided as they will always be weak areas (Dweck, 2008). The other mindset is termed the growth mindset, sometimes also called the incremental or malleable mindset. As the name implies, the person with the growth mindset believes that their intelligence or talents can be developed over time through effort and study (Dweck, 2008). What is interesting about these mindsets is how they interact with what motivates a person to achieve, the goals a person selects, and their eventual achievement levels on challenging tasks. Dweck’s research and follow-up research have amassed considerable data that demonstrate some important connections. First, fixed mindset individuals are motivated to be seen in a positive light. Since any failure demonstrates a weakness, they select situations where they will be able to demonstrate the performance of their talents. They will shy away from tasks that they cannot immediately perform proficiently, ideally preferring a task they can perform extraordinarily well to obtain positive feedback on their talent. If something goes awry, the fixed mindset individual is likely to attempt to hide that failure in some manner, potentially including cheating or lying to save their image. These individuals are externally motivated and are very susceptible to negative messages regarding setbacks that they take as personal failure (Cianci, Schaubroeck, & McGill, 2010). The achievement level of the fixed mindset seldom rises fully to its potential. Certainly there have been individuals with tremendous potential (talent) who achieve a certain level, however, once faced with challenges, they subsequently struggle (Dupeyrat & Marine, 2005; Dweck, 2009).

Key Terms in this Chapter

In-Service Training: Training occurring during the course of employment.

Mastery Goal: Goal selected by an individual that implies learning for intrinsic purposes towards a high level of proficiency.

Growth Mindset: A viewpoint of intelligence and talent in which intelligence and talent are malleable and can change through effort and perseverance. Also referred to as an incremental mindset or malleable mindset.

Social Cognitive Theory: Theoretical perspective in which learning occurs through the observation of others and over time individuals develop to take control of their own behavior.

Performance Goal: Goal selected by an individual that focuses on demonstrating a level of performance for others to notice. Typically accompanied by external motivations such as bonuses, promotions, or grades.

Self-Efficacy: One’s belief that one will be successful at a given task.

Fixed Mindset: A viewpoint of intelligence and talent in which intelligence and talent are static qualities that develop if they exist but do not change. Also referred to as an entity mindset.

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