Chapter 7: Beliefs about Intelligence and Knowledge

Belief about intelligence and knowledge affects academic performance of learners (thinking and learning)

Two types of intelligence:

1. Fixed (entity theory)

2. Changeable (incremental theory)

The type of belief learners hold about intelligence – (1) or (2) – give rise to the following learning goals:

Those who believe that intelligence is fixed – hold and cherish PERFORMANCE GOALS = strong desire to demonstrate one’s performance and to achieve normatively (for name sake) high success in a domain (show off?)


1. Surface/superficial learning

2. Less persistent

3. Less apt to use learning strategies

4. attribute failure to ability and teacher

5. May develop learned helplessness (defense against perceived incompetence – “anything I do will fail…so why try?”)

6. Engage in external locus of control

Those who believe that intelligence is changeable – hold and cherish LEARNING GOALS = strong desire to improve one’s performance and achieve mastery in a domain; also called mastery goals (doing something for my own sake…for the sake of learning and improving as a person)


1. More persistent

2. More likely to use learning strategies

3. Attribute their success to strategy use and effort

4. “I can improve if I polish my ways of studying and put in more effort”

5. Engage in internal locus of control


› How would you define knowledge?

› What is the origin of knowledge?

› It’s nature?

› What are some of the characteristics of knowledge?

How you perceive ‘knowledge’ affects the way you think and learn!Those who hold the following beliefs about knowledge engage in more sophisticated forms of thinking:

1. Knowledge is complex

2. Knowledge is relative

3. Learning is incremental (change in quantity and quality)

4. Ability to learn is not innately determined (Q: any real life example for this?)

Developmental Sequence that individuals pass through on their way to mature reasoning about ‘knowledge’:

1. Dualist stage – right or wrong, quick learning, absolute, universally certain, accessible only to authorities, look for fact-oriented info, remember info becomes important

2. Relativist stage – uncertain and relative, knowledge must e evaluated on a personal basis by using the best available evidence, look for context-oriented info, construction of meaning, gradual learning, tentative and subject to personal interpretation (Bruce Lee!)

Performance differences between the two orientations do exist…!!!

8 thoughts on “Chapter 7: Beliefs about Intelligence and Knowledge”

  1. In my opinion, I think that intelligence is changeable. By learning each day, we can improve our performance and solve the problem faster. Then our ability to adapt to the environment increases. We can see that the IQ of a child is different from an adult. When a child grow up, learn more, confront with life, the IQ is also increasing. Everyone has different ability in reasoning, understand complex ideas, overcome obstacles. However, they are never entirely consistent. We can improve it through by learning and practicing more and more. Finally, I agree that believing that “intelligence is changeable” will help us more confident to achieve our goals.

  2. Dr.Roy:

    When we think of intelligence, we always think of academic performance. However, it has changed poeple’ s opinion about intelligence recently.

    I still have the problem with the intelligence in nature or nuture. I do agree our parents have given our intelligence through the genes, but how about the environment? I read a story which talks environment has played very important role which can make children intelligent through education.

  3. I believe people with healthy brains are born to learn. we have the ability to learn knowledge automatically. However, the environment is also very important for our intelligence development. Our changeable intelligence helps us to adapt to different environments and situations. Therefore, teachers should help students to trust their learning ability and believe that intelligence is changeable.

  4. I believe that intelligence is changeable. i agree with Linh because i think it depends on the environment, culture and family background. we can improve our intelligence by learning and experiences. some children might have ability to do something, but when their parents/ teachers dont give them chance..their intelligence will become dim and vagues lowly. learning, reasoning, problem solving, perception, and using language all are the components of intelligence. i believe that everyone has it.

  5. i totally agree with this sentence

    Belief about intelligence and knowledge affects academic performance of learners (thinking and learning)

    The views of teacher toward us and even our own thinking can affect our academic performance and our self- esteem. especially the students who are sensitive.

    i belief that intelligence is changeable
    enviornment, situations, time and effort can make us to be more perfect in our experience.

  6. Well, I personally, believe that intelligence is changable because it can be improved. It is not the only way we get knowledge to improve our intelligences in school; we can also improve our intelligence and knowledge through learning from our experiences, outside classroom, and day by day in our life. My opinion is…
    If you are satisfy with your intelligance and knowledge that you have got, and think you don’t need to learn to improve it then you are more believe that intelligence is fixed.
    But, if you believe that intelligence is changable then you will be interested in learning (both through formal and informal) to improve your knowledge and become an intelligence person.

  7. I also agree that intelligence is changeable. because if we dont use some kind of skills for al long time we tend to lose it. but when we use it often and we practice it we will become better in the skills we already have and we will find some aditional skill add to our old skills.

  8. I believe that everyone of us is intelligent. We all have the potentials and capacities to always train ourselves to become more and more intelligent. Genetics is also a significant issue when it comes to taking about how intelligent we are. As for the teachers, having the belief that all the students are intelligent in their own unique ways will lead them to become efficient and effective teachers.

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