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Challenging Mindset

Challenging Mindset
Why a Growth Mindset Makes a Difference in Learning – and What to Do When It Doesn’t

June 2018 | 224 pages | Corwin

"James Nottingham and Bosse Larsson offer an important and useful new addition to the ongoing conversation about mindset first introduced by Carol Dweck. Too often, theories such as mindset get reduced down to the simplest dichotomies and ideologies. Here, Nottingham and Larsson challenge our own mindset about the very idea of mindset theory itself, showing us what is possible if we really understand the theory and use it to challenge ourselves and our students."

Jim Burke, 
Teacher, Burlingame High School, and Author, Common Core Companion Series

This book answers key questions about Carol Dweck’s theory of Mindset – What is a ‘growth mindset’ and what difference can it make? Why are growth mindset interventions not working in schools (yet) and what can be done to change this? What is a ‘failure mindset’ and why is it more influential than an adult’s fixed or growth mindset?

Drawing on their experiences of presenting alongside Carol Dweck on many occasions, James Nottingham and Bosse Larsson tackle head-on these questions with research-backed clarity, and share proven strategies for mindset success. Mindset doesn’t matter when things are easy; it is only when faced with challenges that working from a growth mindset influences learning.


Highlights of the book include:

  • Comments and insights from Carol Dweck to enhance your understanding of her important work
  • A detailed and nuanced examination of how mindset works and what you can do to make it more effective for your students
  • An exploration of the relationship between mindset and grades
  • Strategies to encourage a growth mindset during moments of challenge
  • Comprehensive lesson ideas for teaching students about mindset
  • Why praising ‘effort’ can be powerful but also problematic, with an identification of what type of praise is best
  • Examples of how to make the most of mindset theory and practice

Everyone has a mindset that shapes their personality, motivation and development. This book shows you how to create the right conditions for a growth mindset to flourish in your classroom, your school, your staff and your students.


List of Figures
The Challenging Learning Story
About the Authors
Chapter 1: A Tale of Two Mindsets
1.0. Definition of Mindset

1.1. A Comparison of Fixed and Growth Mindsets

1.2. What Difference Does Mindset Make?

1.3. Mindset Is Not Black and White

1.4. Mueller and Dweck Results

1.5. We Are All a Mix of Mindsets

1.6. A Fixed Mindset Might Be More Common Than We Care to Admit

Chapter 2: Growth Mindset Implementation Is Not There (Yet)
2.0. Growth Mindset Effect Size

2.1. Reduced Efficacy 1: Third-hand Knowledge

2.2. Reduced Efficacy 2: Mindset Is Made to Sound Too Easy

2.3. Reduced Efficacy 3: Too Much Performance-Focus, Not Enough Time

2.4. Reduced Efficacy 4: Influences Are Complex

2.5. Reduced Efficacy 5: Mindset Affects Qualities Other Than Achievement

2.6. What Are the Criticisms of Growth Mindset?

Chapter 3: When Does Mindset Work Best?
3.0. Goals, Strategies and Expectations

3.1. Mindset Works Best When Goals Are Learning-Orientated

3.2. Mindset Works Best When There Is Challenge

3.3. Mindset Works Best When There Is a Chicken and an Egg!

3.4. Mindset for Lifelong Learning

3.5. Mindset Without Shame

Chapter 4: Mindset in Education
4.0. Introducing Alisha and Zack

4.1. Alisha and Zack’s Backgrounds

4.2. Alisha and Zack Start School

4.3. Alisha and Zack Meet Their Teachers

4.4. Alisha and Zack Discover Their Talents

Chapter 5: Do You Have a Growth Mindset Culture?
5.0. What Are We Aiming to Achieve?

5.1. How Much Progress Have We Made So Far?

5.2. Collecting Your Evidence

5.3. What Next?

Chapter 6: Privilege Progress
6.0. The Origins of Intelligence Testing

6.1. Administering Tests the Growth Mindset Way

6.2. Draw Attention to Progress

6.3. Progress–Achievement Quadrants

6.4. Different Forms of Progress

6.5. Your Students Are Already Making Progress

Chapter 7: Use the Power of Yet
7.0. The Power of Yet

7.1. The Power of Yetis

Chapter 8: Choose Challenge
8.0. Mindset Matters Most When There Is Challenge

8.1. When Students Pick the Easier Path
8.2. Encouraging Students to Choose the Challenging Path

8.3. Mindset Through the Learning Pit

Chapter 9: Be Careful with Praise
9.0. Different Types of Praise

9.1. To Praise or Not to Praise?

9.2. Praise and Cheating

9.3. Praise and Self-Efficacy

9.4. Praise, Rewards and Mindset

9.5. When to Praise

9.6. Praise in Practice

Chapter 10: Flopped Learning
10.0. Flops Lead to Enhanced Learning

10.1. Flopped Products

10.2. Flopped Feedback

10.3. Flopped Parents

10.4. Effort Is Not Enough

10.5. Resilience and Grit

10.6. Flopped Previews

10.7. Flopped Leading

Chapter 11: Growth Mindset Lessons
11.0. Learning Challenge Lessons

11.1. How Much Can Emily Influence Her Future?

11.2. Was Usain Bolt Born to Be an Olympic Champion?

11.3. Is Challenge Interesting?


"Nottingham and Larsson’s new book is accessible and inviting. It will help you navigate the world of mindset concepts and research, and focus  on actions that can have high impact. I respect these authors and  enjoyed  the clarity and good humor they bring to their bookas will you. I highly recommend Challenging Mindset."


Carol Dweck, Lewis & Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology
Department of Psychology, Standford University

"Changing mindsets is hard – but if it can be done, the directions are throughout this wonderful book.  The book talks about when, how, and where growth mindsets matter, and it brings a refreshing perspective to this important but often misunderstood notion."

John Hattie, Laureate Professor
Melbourne Graduate School of Education
Carlton, Victoria, AUS

"James Nottingham and Bosse Larsson offer an important and useful new addition to the ongoing conversation about mindset first introduced by Carol Dweck. Too often, theories such as mindset get reduced down to the simplest dichotomies and ideologies. Here, Nottingham and Larsson challenge our own mindset about the very idea of mindset theory itself, showing us what is possible if we really understand the theory and use it to challenge ourselves and our students."

Jim Burke, Teacher and Author, Common Core Companion Series
Burlingame High School

“Mindset is a word that has been thrown around a great deal over the years. Unfortunately, most educators who use the word didn’t understand the real context behind it. Nottingham and Larsson not only focus on the nuances of mindset, but offer practical strategies on how to use the research correctly so students can succeed! Challenging Mindset will be an important read for a very long time.”

Peter DeWitt, Ed. D., Author, Collaborative Leadership, Blogger, Finding Commong Ground
Facilitator of Learning

“James Nottingham and Bosse Larsson have the unique ability to activate the thinking of their readers by bridging the divide between research and practice. The “Now Try This” sections encourage readers to engage with heart, head, and hand to relate what they are learning to their current practices and to share those ides with colleagues. They have masterfully deepened our understanding of Carol Dweck’s work and aligned her thinking to their work around The Learning Challenge.”

Julie Smith, Author, Evaluating Instructional Leadership
Pacific City, OR

"Nottingham and Larsson provide a much needed clarification of growth mindset, grounded in research and illustrated through relevant classroom examples. The authors provide practical tools and strategies to support educators in the correct application of mindset to impact student learning. A must read for all educators!"

Cathy Lassiter, Author, Everyday Courage for School Leaders
Virginia Beach, VA

"Wow. Each one of the books in the Learning Challenge series deepens my understanding of how to be a better teacher, leader, and parent. We have all read the research on the importance of having a growth mindset but here lies a complete guide with visuals, strategies, and explanations for how to make it come to life in the classroom."

Julie Stern, Author, Tools for Teaching Conceptual Understanding
Washington, D.C.

James Andrew Nottingham

James Nottingham is co-founder and director of Challenging Learning, a group of companies with 30 employees in 6 countries. His passion is in transforming the most up-to-date research into strategies that really work in the classroom. He is regarded by many as one of the most engaging, thought-provoking and inspirational speakers in education. His first book, Challenging Learning, was published in 2010 and has received widespread critical acclaim. Since then, he has written 6 books for teachers, leaders, support staff, and parents. These books share the best research and practice connected with learning; dialogue; feedback; the... More About Author

Bosse Larsson

Bosse Larsson is a Swedish teacher, trainer and concept developer. He has extensive experience developing creative thinking and learning with primary and secondary students, and is a sought-after keynote speaker and workshop leader.  He started working as a science teacher more than thirty years ago and has for over a decade been supporting secondary school dropouts and students with special educational needs.  Responding to many requests to share his ideas, Bosse began his own educational consultancy in 2007 ( He is also a long-time consultant for Challenging Learning. Through this work, he aims to broaden,... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781506376622

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