Research has shown that when students have a growth mindset, they are more likely to challenge themselves, believe that they can achieve more, and become stronger, more resilient and creative problem solvers. Educators can have an enormous impact on the mindset of their students.
Quick Tips to Infuse a Growth Mindset in Your Classroom
Encourage students to take risks.
Share your own struggles with challenging material. Show students that ‘expertise’ comes through practice (e.g., “When I first came across this topic in college I really had a tough time with it. And I had to read and reread it many times but I kept at it and eventually got it.”).
Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know" or "I don't understand". Model effort.
- If a student asks a question and you don’t know the answer, make it a point to go learn the answer, then at the beginning of the next class, explain that you looked it up by doing X, and learned Y or loop students into this process and find the answer together.
- If you’re teaching a particular concept and misapprehended it yourself for a long time, tell your students!
Ask questions that are authentic and open-ended so students can focus on the process of thinking through an answer.
Assign work that allows for growth/improvement (e.g., multiple drafts of papers, opportunities to respond to feedback).
Encourage a growth mindset after potentially challenging assignments/exams.
- Use practice and feedback, avoid having a gap between what is done in class and what is expected on assignments/exams.
Reinforce the notion that there is no such thing as a Math/X/Y person -- everyone can do Math/X/Y with proper training.
Ensure that discussions of growth mindset don’t devolve into a “bootstraps” discussion (e.g., If you only had the right mindset, you’d be able to work harder and get a better grade”).
Kyle Cole, Ph.D. (he/him)
Director of Diversity and Inclusion
Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL)