top of page

Growth Mindset-Adjusting the Mindset in Radiologic Sciences

How Did I Get Here?


It is my belief that the power of the mindset determines your ability to learn and grow in almost any capacity.  I grew up in a time that you were labeled very publicly about your abilities in school and in life.  Teachers, parents, coaches, all grown-ups, in general, had no qualms about categorizing you based on their perceptions.  This outright labeling caused kids to “live-up” to the expectations set for them.  Although some well-meaning adults did exist, the majority believed they were doing the right thing by limiting the expectations and potential of those they believed to be less than.  The assumptions were based on their own skewed science. I had many adults in my life tell me that I was smart because I did well on a standardized test or had great handwriting while I witnessed the same adults tell a different student he would never amount to anything for not remembering to bring a pencil to class.  I did not mind since I was a kid and on the positive side of the labeling; however, I did develop a hesitance to try things if I did not think I could deliver at the highest level.


Imagine now if we grew up with the constant reassurance that:


Consistent Practice/Diligent Effort + Right Method = Growth (Scott,2020)


I believe the education system and the world would be a different place if we took the labels off of the learner and added practice, effort, and the right method.   We have the power to change our outcomes by changing our perspectives by teaching the growth mindset to our students and giving them the tools they need to be successful.


Unleashing the Power of the Growth Mindset


  • Your mindset is a belief.  (Dweck,2016)

  • Beliefs can be challenged and changed.

  • Transforming your mindset from fixed to growth is possible.

  • Fear, action, or lack thereof, are all motivators in mindset

  • I believe the theory of “grit” (Duckworth, 2019) is just as important as having a growth-mindset.  If you don’t have the fortitude to push through the difficulty then you will likely not end up where you hope to be.

How Do We Determine Our Mindset?


Each person holds traits for both types of mindset-fixed and growth.

Determining your personal mindset seems to be as simple as asking the following question-

You are born with a limited ability to learn. (fixed)

Your capacity to learn is unlimited. (growth)

  • Learn to “hear” your fixed-mindset voice

  • Anytime you feel discouraged or start to feel the heaviness of the steps ahead is your trigger that you need to stop and reevaluate your mindset.  

  • Look for patterns of thoughts or statements you are telling yourself.

    • “I’m not smart enough.” 

    • “It is too hard.” 

    • “You will be judged.”

    • “They will figure you out.”


Recognize that you have a choice

Learning requires effort and discomfort but you do have a choice to change the way you believe.  

  • You must first determine why you feel limited and uncomfortable with the thought of learning.  If you feel judged or embarrassed or incapable then that is your fixed mindset talking.  Don’t listen.

  • If you see the discomfort as an opportunity to be challenged and learn from your mistakes but you can ultimately make it where you need to go then you are choosing a growth mindset.


Talk Back to it with a Growth Mindset

  • As soon as you recognize the fixed mindset voice speaking to you, immediately rearrange the voice into a growth-mindset statement.

    • “You aren’t born reading, you learn”

    • “Being uncomfortable means you are growing”

    • “Being vulnerable is not a weakness”

    • “Effort requires discomfort”

    • “You can reach the goal, you just have to put the effort in.”


Take the Growth Mindset Action

In our house we have dinner to discuss what we “failed” today.  You must bring something that you tried and failed every single day.  We “fail forward” here.  If you haven’t done something new and not been successful then you haven’t really tried.

  • This takes the stigma out of the word “failure”.

  • Encourages failure for actual growth. 

  • You must fail first to some degree in order to have success.

You must actively move toward a growth mindset with effort, even if it means you are “failing forward”.  


The Power of “Yet”!

Students are routinely counseled after both poor performance or poor attitude in their courses.

  • Reminders about the effort it takes to improve.

  • No one is “born” to be a radiologic technologist, it is an acquired skill with diligence, determination and practice. 

  • We can all get to the finish line with the right amount of effort, the correct tools, and perseverance. 

In the last several weeks I have already incorporated this philosophy into the practical labs. 

  • I have been consistently intervening when the students seem overwhelmed with the following phrases:

    • “I am not a magician,  my skill just came from practice and patience.”

    • “Give it a few minutes, keep trying, repetition is the key here.”

    • “Not “yet” but very close.”  

    • “Don’t give up!”


When and how often will you promote the growth mindset?


Growth mindset will be presented at 3 key times in our program although the goal is for all faculty to adopt the theories and use them in everyday interactions.

  • Rad-camp- This is the orientation for new program students.

    • Ted talks about growth mindset and grit will be presented.

    • Students will write themselves a “Congratulations letter” which will include what they overcame to get to the end.  This letter will be returned to them when they graduate.  It forces them to consider the challenges they may have but put them in the frame of mind that they can be overcome.

  • Semester 2- This is the beginning of one of the most challenging semesters in concept.

    • Reminders of resources available.  

    • Disabling negative self talk

    • Celebrate What’s Right with the World (Jones,2001)-is an inspirational book/video about focusing on the good when there is difficulty so that you can proceed.

    • Students are asked to share their personal life philosophy which are overwhelmingly growth related.


  • Semester 4-Beginning of the clinical semesters.

    • Roses and Thorns- Each week on Monday students gather for class and they are tasked with recounting a time during the week that something great happened (rose) and when something not great (thorn) occurred.  For the “thorn” response, the student must provide a solution on how they could have handled the situation differently or better and what they will do next time.  Reminding them that there will always be difficulty but that you  must adjust and move forward.

    • Clinical journaling- Every week the student has a prompt for self-reflection.  

      • Challenges

      • Opportunities for growth

Growth Mindset Resources

I will be using the Carol Dweck Ted Talk and the Angela Duckworth Ted Talk to introduce the power of mindset and grit to the students.  I will further use my own tools of roses/thorns and clinical journaling to reinforce these principles.  I will be using the Dewitt Jones video of embracing what is good in times of difficulty as reinforcement for growth.

I will continue to locate resources to reinforce “failing forward” so that growth is the default mindset.


Growth Mindset is here to stay.

I unknowingly had embraced the theory of growth mindset before this program began.  I waited 17 years to return for my Master’s degree.  For most of those years I had my heels dug in and refused to move in the direction of forward progress.  When I finally decided that I would go after this degree I started telling myself “This is a choice, you can learn because you are determined”.  I picked up the determination piece from Duckworth.  I still tell myself this every day for the last 11 weeks.  I’m just beginning this journey but I never would have begun if I had not adopted this mindset first. As I read Dweck’s book I realized that I had made that jump already but that it would take significant reinforcement to keep moving forward. 


Duckworth, A. (2019). Grit. Vermilion. 

Dweck, C. S. (2016). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books. 

Elliott-Moskwa, E. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2022). The growth mindset workbook: Cbt skills to help you build                    resilience, Increase confidence & thrive through life’s challenges. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

 Jones, D. (2001). Celebrate what's right with the world with Dewitt Jones. Star Thrower Distribution. 

 Scott , J. (2020, June 23). Change your fixed mindset into a growth mindset [complete guide]. Scott Jeffrey.          Retrieved November 6, 2022, from                                           

bottom of page