You hear a lot about mindset in education these days. But what is mindset?
Mindset is your beliefs about learning and intelligence. For example, do you believe learning should be easy and quick, or that it’s generally slow and difficult? Do you believe intelligence is something you’re born with, or something that can change over time?
What students believe about their intelligence can have a big impact on their learning behaviors and their ability to become self-directed learners. Research done by Carol Dweck and her colleagues showed that beliefs about learning and intelligence can profoundly influence students’ learning behaviors. (Dweck 2006)
When students believe learning should be fast and effortless, and that intelligence is something that you’re born with, they don’t work as hard, are more easily discouraged, and learn less. But, when students believe learning is slow, that learning takes effort, and that anyone can get smarter, those are characteristics of a growth mindset. And, students with a growth mindset tend to work harder, are less easily discouraged, and learn more.
There’s an idea in our country that science, technology, engineering, and math are hard, and that if you don’t fit the profile of someone on “The Big Bang Theory,” STEM might not be for you. But, by telling kids that STEM is hard, or that not everyone is cut out for STEM, we may be sending the wrong message and affecting students’ abilities to be successful.
Instead of telling students that they’re smart, praise them for being a hard working, and persevering to solve the problem. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” Dweck explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”
When thinking about how to help your students succeed in their STEM learning, keep in mind that if students don’t see people like themselves succeeding in STEM fields, they’ll be less likely to study those fields because they may not feel welcomed or feel that it fits with their view of themselves or their place within the community. Students are influenced by numerous beliefs and cultural factors, all of which can have an effect on students’ mindset and whether or not they think they can be successful.
The bottom line is this: students’ intelligence and abilities aren’t fixed traits and, as a teacher, you hold the power to help develop students who will face educational challenges instead of being overwhelmed by them.
Posted on April 27, 2016 in Announcements by LeeAnn Baronett : 0 Comments