Growth Mindset May 26, 2016 How a growth mindset intervention improves student engagement. Stacie Barry Research “See, the mind works like a flower. A flower needs water, soil, and sunlight to grow, right? Well, the growth mindset needs learning, work, and challenges to grow.” ~ William M. (12 yrs. old) As educators, we must understand how children learn and how we can maximize the time we have with them. Student engagement is a very important part of teaching and learning. Parsons, Nuland and Parsons (2014) state that in order for students to achieve, they must be engaged in their learning. Tapping in to and developing a student’s intrinsic motivation is as important as the mathematical skills you are teaching. Education, in general, needs to Growth Mindset involve environments and actions that promote students to believe in themselves. Many 6th graders have a hard time thinking of themselves as mathematicians and in return, tend to not be completely engaged in their learning. Carol Dweck (2006) names this as a fixed mindset. Students with a fixed mindset believe that intelligence is static and fixed where a student that has a growth mindset believes that intelligence and the brain can grow. Students with a growth mindset believe that with practice intelligence can be developed. Promoting a growth mindset allows students to attack challenges in the math classroom. Could a growth mindset intervention improve student engagement? Yeager and Dweck (2012) show how this theory of a fixed mindset can lead students to interpret challenging tasks as a sign that they are dumb which then leads to less motivation to try the next time. Niemiec and Ryan (2009) believe that children need to feel competent in order for intrinsic motivation to be sustained. Having a growth mindset can lead students to believe that intelligence can be learned. Therefore, they learn more effectively, desire challenges and embrace mistakes (Boaler, 2013). The growth mindset will help students feel competency. A research study showed that a growth mindset intervention resulted in a 4.5 point gain in math achievement test scores (Boaler, 2013). If students can embrace mistakes (Boaler, 2013) and can see that intelligence can be developed over time, they become more resilient when they encounter challenges in the math classroom (Yeager & Dweck, 2012). May 26, 2016 The Intervention Fifteen 6th grade, general education students were given a mindset survey (MindsetWorks.com). The survey provides a scoring tool to see what level of a fixed mindset or growth mindset a scholar has. The range is from a Fixed 5 through Growth 5. In this classroom, six scholars were at a Fixed 1 mindset. Five scholars were at a Growth 1 mindset. Two scholars scored at a Growth 2 mindset. One scholar was at a Growth 4 mindset and one scholar was at a Growth 5 mindset. After the survey was administered, scholars were given a mathematical task. They were offered a regular task and a challenging task. Five out of 15 scholars chose the challenging task while the remaining ten chose the regular task. Next, the growth mindset intervention from Mindset Works was implemented for two weeks. Scholars first learned about the brain and how it works. They read articles on the brain and how the brain makes connections and “grows” when practice and challenges are present. Scholars watched videos including a TEDx Talk with Eduardo Briceno on the Power of the Mindset. The scholars reflected on their surveys and their own mindsets. They developed an artistic expression of the growth mindset. It could be a picture, rap, poem, slideshow, etc. Growth Mindset May 26, 2016 those that chose the regular task. The scholars solved and presented their mathematical work and completed a final reflection on their own mindset and growth. Conclusions After the growth mindset intervention, eleven out of the 15 scholars increased in the range of their mindsets. Two stayed the same and two decreased in their ranges. The most dramatic result was the engagement in their mathematical tasks. Overwhelmingly, the acceptance of challenges and the student engagement in the mathematics classroom improved. Scholars then wrote and presented their own TEDx Talk about the growth mindset in schools. At the end of the two weeks, scholars were given the survey again. Figure 1 shows the changes represented in the survey. Figure 1: Mindset Survey 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 Can the conclusion be made that the growth mindset was the sole contributor to the improvement? No, more work needs to be done with a much larger pool of participants. Although this experiment, with engagement and motivation, does implicate the importance of teachers to take into consideration mindsets and children. When children understand that brains and knowledge can “grow”, they attack challenges more and stay engaged in their learning. References Dweck, C.S. (2006). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House. Fixed 1 Growth 1 Growth 2 Growth 3 Growth 4/5 Pre Post The final test came with a mathematical task. The scholars were given a choice again of a regular task and a challenging task. Eleven out of 15 chose the challenging task. The students with the challenging tasks were more engaged than Niemiec, C.P. & Ryan, R.M. (2009). Autonomy, competence, and relatedness in the classroom: applying self-determination theory to educational practice. Theory and Research in Education, 7 (2), 133-144. Parsons, S.A., Nuland, L.R. & Parsons, A.W. (2014). The ABC’s of student engagement. The Phi Delta Kappan, 95 (8), 23-27. Yeager, D.S. & Dweck, C.S. (2012). Mindsets that promote resilience: when students believe that personal characteristics can be developed. Educational Psychologist, 47, (4), 302-314.