Increasing Student Motivation
and Engagement
Using a Mindset Approach:
Strategies for Your Curriculum
David Valentiner
Northern Illinois University
Presentation Outline
• A Request
• Rationale and Empirical Basis
– Introduction to the theory
– Selective review of the evidence -- four studies
• Feedback
• Strategies for your curriculum
– Curriculum modules
– Shifting the paradigm
– Building your own curriculum
Strategies to Promote a
Growth Mindset
• From the first study, “Brainology” includes a six-session
online tutorial on cognitive neuroscience,
supplemented with in-class activities and homework
assignments.
• From the second study, the Malleable Pen Pal
condition involved three 90-minute sessions in which
individual writes letters to a younger student.
• From the fourth study, the Incremental Theory
condition involved a semester-long process of
designing a webpage advocating an incremental
mindset.
Something Less Cumbersome
• One 30-45 minute session
• Uses the “saying is believing” paradigm
• Orient students to the task of advocating for a
growth mindset. Instruct them to not evaluate
whether it is true or not.
• Present information to help them.
Presentation Outline
• A Request
• Rationale and Empirical Basis
– Introduction to the theory
– Selective review of the evidence -- four studies
• Feedback
• Strategies for your curriculum
– Curriculum modules
– Shifting the paradigm
– Building your own curriculum
Other resources
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Dropbox folder
Pert.net
Mindsetworks.com
Ongoing consultation (email, phone, etc.)
Shifting the paradigm
• Mindset beliefs are self-maintaining
• Like other implicit beliefs
– Outside of awareness
– Sometimes at odds with explicit beliefs
– Guide attention, interpretation, and behavior
– Transmitted through media, person-to-person
• Change the behavior to change the belief
Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
• The goal is to look
smart: “I want to
show how smart I
am.”
• The goal is learning:
“It’s more important
to learn than it to
get the top grade.”
• Effort is seen as
negative : “If you
have to work hard, it
means that you are
not very smart.”
• Effort is seen as
positive : “The
harder you work, the
better you’ll be at it.”
Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
• Response to failure: “I • Response to failure: “I
don’t want to do this;”
will work harder in
“I don’t like this class;”
this class;” “I will
and “This isn’t fair – I
spend more time
am going to cheat.”
studying for the tests.”
• Intelligence Praise:
“Wow, that’s a really
good score. You must
be smart at this.”
• Effort Praise: “Wow,
that’s a really good
score. You must have
tried really hard.”
Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
• Low Confidence
• High Confidence
• Low Motivation
• High Motivation
• Decreasing
Performance
• Increasing
Performance
Growth Mindset
• Praise effort (not achievement or performance)
• Talk about acquiring knowledge and developing
skills (not demonstrating ability)
– “show me what you have learned” versus “show me
how good you are at this”
• Focus on the task (not the person)
– Self-focus contributes to a breakdown in automatized
cognitions and behaviors (i.e., choking)
• Emphasize formative (not summative) evaluation
• Describe role models efforts (not gifts)
Shifting the paradigm
• Other beliefs relevant to mindset beliefs
– Intelligence is stable
– Group differences
– Some students can’t learn this material
– Some people are just naturals at this
– Some people are not cut out for this
– Some of these things can’t be learned
• Adoption of a growth mindset is a teaching
strategy.
Presentation Outline
• A Request
• Rationale and Empirical Basis
– Introduction to the theory
– Selective review of the evidence -- four studies
• Feedback
• Strategies for your curriculum
– Curriculum modules
– Shifting the paradigm
– Building your own curriculum
Mindset constructs
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Peer relationship mindset
Personality mindset
Shyness mindset
Morality mindset
Weight mindset
Negative affect mindset
Selecting a mindset construct
• Consider the specific course curriculum (e.g.,
math skills for a math class, biology knowledge
for a biology class, etc.)
• Consider how students actively engage with the
curriculum and develop a sense of belongingness
• Entry and gatekeeping courses might target
professional identity (e.g., engineering can be
learned; most students in this class who work
hard can become an engineer)
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Strategies for Your Curriculum