If you are a connected educator then you have definitely seen the term Growth Mindset floating around in social media channels that you use. It is probably what led you here to this post and maybe to similar posts. This was the case for me using twitter and participating through many educational chats that have discussed the topic. Trends in social media represent people “thinking out-loud” of the same topic. Trends will shed the light on others’ experiences and thoughts. However, only the tip of the iceberg is there in social media. If you do not deeply reflect and investigate beyond the 140 characters then you might end up with distorted, scattered ideas or even misconceptions. This is why I had my share of investigation, reading and practice on the topic. Besides presenting the topic from learners’ perspective in a conference, I have posted about it from teachers’ perspective here. I have also hosted one #edchatMENA chat on the topic that I have archived here and another one on misconceptions about Growth Mindset here. The persistent question I had in mind while doing all of this was “What would be an efficient way to introduce the idea to the learners?”
In one study, 7th grade students were taught about Neuroplasticity – how the brain changes when you learn new things. They were shown the evidence that intelligence can be developed with practice and learning new strategies. Students in the treatment group who got this message did significantly better after the intervention than students in the control group (Paunesku, Walton, Romero, Smith, Yeager, & Dweck, 2015). In another study with over 1500 high school students, students were randomly assigned to participate in a 2-session online intervention that taught about Neuroplasticity. It helped underperforming students who showed a significant increase in their GPAs (Blackwell, Trzesniewski & Dweck,2007).
In this article, I will share with you my answer to the question “What would be an efficient way to introduce the idea to the learners?” I will present how I introduced Growth Mindset to my students in a workshop that was conducted in last February 2016. The part of the teams’ activity and resources for the workshop will be introduced in part 2 of this post.
Students are the ones who will answer the question
So, you want your students to learn about Growth Mindset then nothing is better than urging them to moderate and deliver the workshop to their peers. They will be more convincing to their colleagues. I had great ideas for the workshop and I asked some students to volunteer to co-present with me. We planned sessions to introduce the idea to them before they pass it on to the workshop attendees . They were very enthusiastic about the “I can” attitude underpinning the Growth Mindset concept. They then planned their own brainstorming sessions. Surprisingly, the great ideas that I had for the session were all placed on the shelf as they looked very modest compared to what they came up with.
Invite teachers to attend and participate
Students were happy to work with their teachers on the workshop activities and discussion. This made them feel supported. In addition, the other privilege of having teachers among the audience was that it made the learners recognize that we are all in a non-stop learning journey. The learners’ enthusiasm mixed with teachers experience and guidance led to a very engaging session that was intriguing to each attendee from a different perspective.
Let them have some fun
One of the greatest ideas my students have come up with was the brainteasers, which was the warm up and the closure of our session. An essential part of the session was about Neuroplasticity and brainteasers were the students’ own way to introduce the concept. The message behind the brainteasers was “Learning will ignite your brain”; It was a joyful start.
Show them evidence on Neuroplasticity
I have used this video to let the students learn about Neuroplasticity
This was great. The students came up with a script that shows one problem that is common to most of them in their academic life. They created a dialogue in which three characters were engaged. One character represented a student who was confused about which academic program to join (one program is apparently easy but the other is what the student dreamed about). For the other two students, one represented the growth mindset voice and the other the fixed mindset voice when providing advise to their friend. The problem was left with no solution in the end of the scene. The audience was asked to reflect and to help the student make her decision.
There is still more to come in part(2) of the article soon.
Copyright 2016 Bashaer M. Al Kilani @bashaierk
Paunesku, D., Walton, G., Romero, C., Smith, E., Yeager, D., & Dweck, C. (2015) Mind-Set Interventions Are a Scalable Treatment for Academic Underachievement. Psychological Science OnlineFirst, published on April 10, 2015 as doi:10.1177/0956797615571017
Blackwell, L., Trzesniewski, K., & Dweck, C. (2007). Implicit Theories of Intelligence Predict Achievement Across an Adolescent Transition: A Longitudinal Study and an Intervention. Child Development, Vol. 78, No. 1.