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Inspiring Your CPD - December 2018

18 12.18

 ‘Fixed’ or ‘growth’ mindset

This month we examine a particular aspect of our beliefs about people’s capacity for change and development. We all bring to our work basic beliefs about how people engage with the world and we explore this concept of mindset below.

Activities here are simply ideas and are not compulsory. You can choose to do some, all or none; it won’t affect your membership of the CDI whether you take up these ideas or not, although they do reflect good practice.

If you are on the Register then undertaking 25 hours of CPD each year is a condition of your registration.

If you are a member then undertaking CPD helps you to adhere to the Continuous Professional Development principle in the CDI Code of Ethics.

Each month, we will suggest CPD activities which will allow you to explore a topic, interact with others and create a reflective record in the Members’ Area of the CDI website. Simply choose the items and activities that suit your role and your style.

All the resources mentioned, and many more, are also accessible with direct links from the CPD Resources area of the Members’ Area of the CDI website. Most resources are arranged according to the National Occupational Standards: Career Development (NOS:CD).


Mindset theory

The best-known scholar of ‘mindset’ is Carol Dweck. A website What is mindset? built around her book takes readers through an exploration of the concept and has links to many related articles. It also includes a basic self-test of mindset and ideas on ways to alter your mindset. You can also access a study guide with very brief chapter summaries, and associated activities and discussion questions. Alternatively, join the 8 million people who have viewed her 10-minute TED talk, and finally there’s an RSA Animate of another TED talk.


Policy – a contrasting view?

Within the RSA Animate, Dweck suggests there are two ways we can engage with people’s abilities.

  1. ‘You have permanent traits and I’m judging them’, or
  2. ‘You are a developing person and I’m interested in your development’

Most career development people sit happily with the latter (it is, after all, career development) but we work within a different policy discourse. Much educational policy and the dominant policy discourse assumes that ability is somehow set early on, and fixed. “The idea that children are bright or dull, of high ‘ability’ or low, and there’s an end to the matter, is everywhere given voice and passes without question”1. This quotation comes from an article within FORUM magazine.

FORUM’s 2013 Spring issue is entitled ‘This Way Out: teachers and pupils escaping from fixed-ability thinking and practice’. All articles are now open access (i.e. free of charge) and create a conversation ‘about changes in the pattern of imposed assessment, fresh thinking about “mind-set”, supportive innovations in certain schools and universities, and sustained principled objection to the educational damage fixed “ability” thinking continues to cause’.


Mindset in careers and business

Mindset is not only about education. Liz Cohen, career coach of US-based Next Step Careers directs mindset theory towards jobseekers in 5 reasons growth mindset candidates get the job. The Progress-Focused Approach blog (by Coert Visser) offers many posts on growth mindset, including Developing a growth mindset – how individuals and organisations benefit.  The Harvard Business Review also considers How companies can profit from a ‘growth mindset’.


Is there another viewpoint?

Reflective practice requires us to look all around a subject. These items take you through an outline of growth mindset theory, its contrast with much of the dominant educational policy discourse, and its applicability in different situations. But we also have to ask: is the theory sound and well-supported by evidence? Whilst there is a large consensus in favour, it is useful to read this critique A mindset ‘revolution’ sweeping British schools may be based on shaky science. The article also includes links to a number of studies and users of growth mindset theory in the UK.


Sharing views and experiences on LinkedIn

Many CDI members will have had some engagement with mindset theory, maybe in a school which has espoused these ideas. LinkedIn is the place to share your experiences with other members, and seek support for using it yourself. After all – that’s growth mindset!


Using our LinkedIn groups

The CDI has a number of LinkedIn groups for members, which are a good place for discussing professional development issues and personal dilemmas with other members. Existing groups are:

National groups Northern Ireland | Scotland | Wales

Community of Interest groups Careers Education | Independent Coaches and Consultants | Learning Difficulties and Disabilities | HE Advisers | Research. Visit the Communities of Interest.


Recording and reflecting on CPD

Remember that reading, talking and reflecting all count towards your CPD hours as long as you write a short reflective report in the My CPD section of your ‘My Portfolio’ record.


Useful Tips

Accessing the Members’ Area in order to record your CPD

To access this area click Login (at the top of the screen) and use your Members’ Area username (your email address) and password. Then click on Members’ Area, and choose Professional Register which includes the CPD Resources area and your personal CPD record. You can also access the Register directly by using the Professional Register link on the home page.

The site includes the facility to Request a new password. Remember that for the system to work well, you need to keep your details up to date and ensure that CDI emails are not directed to your spam box.


For any questions relating to CPD Recording please contact:

Dr Lyn Barham,

Project Associate (Research)

(If you have any questions relating to this email please contact


1 Drummond, M.J. & Yarker, P. (2013) Editorial, Forum Vol.55 (1)