Soon after graduating, Dweck got placed at the 'University of Illinois,' where she taught from 1972 to 1981 and again from 1985 to 1989. She has taught at 'Columbia University' for 15 years (1989 to 2004) and at 'Harvard' (from 1981 to 1985), too. In 2004, she joined 'Stanford University' as the 'Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology' and continues to work there to date.
While at 'Yale,' Dweck closely followed the work of American psychologist Martin E. P. Seligman and his theory of "learned helplessness.'' Dweck then began working to find if “learned helplessness” caused poor academic records, for which she formulated a simple game for fifth-graders.
Dweck’s primary research interests have been in motivation, personality, and development. She teaches social development, along with personality and motivation. She has contributed to the field of social psychology by developing implicit theories of intelligence, all of which have been discussed thoroughly in her 2006 book 'Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.' Through the book, she has advised parents to praise their children for hard work and has claimed that would lead to success.
According to Dweck’s theories, individuals can be ranked according to their implicit views on the source of their ability. She argues that the mindset of growth is the key to less stress and a more successful life.
Dweck's research findings challenge the common idea of associating intelligence and smartness to birth. Her theories also break the misconception of equating the growth mindset with effort.
In 2006, Dweck delivered a lecture to a freshman batch in a seminar based on her book 'Mindset.' In February 2007, she collaborated with 'Bentley' to launch a study where racing-car drivers were put under observation to apply the growth mindset theory to improve their speed times during the racing season.
Psychology graduate student Fred Leach carried out the research to help check if there was any difference in results after applying the growth mindset therapy.
Dweck has co-authored the paper 'Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement across Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention’ that the journal 'Child Development' released in February 2007.
The paper was based on research that showed the influence of “fixed” and “growth” theories of intelligence on the math grades of students at a New York City junior high school. Dweck found that students with a “fixed mindset” had poor academic trends, while the others performed well. The experience fascinated Dweck and convinced her that mere IQ tests could not judge one's intelligence.
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In a 2015 interview with British publication 'Schools Week,' Dweck recalled her experience where she was put to an IQ test to measure her intelligence. She was a sixth-grader when she and her classmates were seated in order of their IQ. The procedure and results of the test later inspired her to study the trait.
Dweck's works have been featured on the 'National Public Radio' and in the American biweekly magazine 'New York.’ She has also presented her research at the San Francisco meeting of the 'American Association for the Advancement of Science.'
Dweck is a member of the 'American Academy of Arts & Sciences' and the 'National Academy of Sciences.'
In 2008, the 'Society for Personality and Social Psychology' felicitated her with the 'Donald Campbell Career Achievement Award in Social Psychology.' The 'American Psychological Association' honored her with the 'Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award' in 2011. Dweck has also received the 'E. L. Thorndike Career Achievement Award in Educational Psychology' and the 'James McKeen Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award' from the 'Association for Psychological Science' in 2013.
In September 2017, Dweck was one of two inaugural laureates to receive the 'Yidan Prize for Education Research,' awarded by Hong Kong-based 'Yidan Prize Foundation.' She received US$3.9 million, half of which she used for her further research work.
Criticizing Dweck’s works, Toby Young wrote in 'Spectator' that Timothy Bates, a psychology professor at the 'University of Edinburgh,' had repeatedly failed to replicate Dweck's findings. Other education and psychology researchers have displayed their concern over ''mindset'' being established as an aspect to be assessed and graded in children.
Dr. J. Luke Wood once lambasted Dweck's “mindset” theory, saying it was incomplete in underserved students, especially students of color. However, the biggest criticism of the theory to date has come from a team of researchers at the 'Case Western Reserve University’ in Cleveland, Ohio, and the 'Michigan State University.' The researchers published a study in 2018 that tested the “mindset” theory on academic achievement through grades and test scores. The conclusion stated that "the overall effect of growth mindset interventions on academic achievement is small."