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Three Useful Growth Mindset Resources



As I’ve written on many occasions in this blog (The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset”) and in my books, I think the concept of a “growth mindset” can be very helpful in the classroom.

Here are three important new resources related to a growth mindset that I think teachers will find useful:

First, you might remember my post from a few days ago, New Study Shows That Teaching About “Growth Mindset” Works At Large Scale – Or Does It?

In that post, I shared a new paper that had just come suggesting that teaching a 45 minute lesson on the growth mindset can have have a positive impact on students and, for the first time, showed that it could work on a large scale. In that same post, I shared a detailed critique of that study that came out almost simultaneously. And, since I didn’t really understand the methodology of either report, I invited readers to help me figure it out.

One helpful reader did leave a detailed comment, which I’d encourage you to read. Even more importantly, the primary author of the mindset study, Dave Paunesku, responded to the critique (and was nice enough to respond to me), and the researcher who critiqued it responded to the response and accepted a number of the points.

Though I have to say I’m still not statistically savvy to understand all of it, the most important point that I can glean from the exchange is that, though the impact of the growth mindset intervention was less apparent in higher-achieving students, it did indeed have a more clear impact on students facing more challenges. Here are a few excerpts from Dave Paunesku’s response:

we did find evidence that mindset interventions help underachieving students — and those students are very important from a policy standpoint. As we describe in the paper, those students are more likely to drop out, to end up underemployed, or to end up in prison. So if something can help those students at scale and at a low cost, it’s important for people to know that.

we just ran a successful replication of this study (in fall 2014) in which we again found that growth mindset improves achievement specifically among at-risk high school students (currently under review). We’re also planning yet another large scale replication study this fall with a nationally representative sample of schools so that we can be more confident that the interventions are effective in various types of contexts before giving them away for free to any school that wants them.

This greater impact on students facing more challenges has been borne out by my experience in the classroom, as well.

By the way, in case you’re interested, the 45 minute intervention the authors did was have students read an article “focused on the implications of neuroscience findings for students’ potential to become more intelligent through study and practice.” That was followed by two writing exercises:

In one, students summarized the scientific findings in their own words. In the second, they read about a hypothetical student who was becoming discouraged and beginning to think of himself as not smart enough to do well in school. Participating students were asked to use what they had read to advise this student.

Now, for the second growth mindset-related resource that I think teachers will find helpful. I’ve previously posted about PERTS, a Stanford-based organization (headed by Dave Paunesku from the previously-mentioned study) and the great materials they produce (see Good Videos On A Growth Mindset, The Importance Of Learning From Mistakes & A Lot More).

They recently unveiled a Mindset Meter, a free online assessment for students to take and which then communicates to their teacher where they are in terms of having a growth mindset. Personally, I don’t think it’s very useful — I think most teachers don’t need a specific tool to assess which students have a growth mindset or not. But, hey, others obviously disagree.

But I did communicate to PERTS that I thought having a version that students could take and they could see their own results, as long as it was made clear that it was just a piece of information they could value or not — now, that could be a nice part of a lesson plan. It’s similar to how I use Angela Duckworth’s grit scale in a lesson – after learning about her research, I have students take her assessment, make it very clear that it’s just a piece of information that might or might not be helpful, that it is not a definitive label, and they should be free to agree or disagree with it. I don’t even have students share the results with their classmates or with me, though many choose to do so. PERTS got back to me saying they would discuss it.

In the meantime, however, I saw an Ed Week article about the growth mindset from a couple of years ago that included its own interactive survey that would serve that very purpose! So, until (and if) PERTS comes up with their own version, I think Ed Week’s can work very well.

And, now for the their and final resource in this post. I’ve already mentioned the post where I shared a lot of PERTS’ videos. For some reason, I had overlooked what might be their best one on what learning and a growth mindset does to the brain. One of the most important lessons I do with students is on how learning new things makes their brain stronger (see The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning), and there aren’t that many accessible videos that demonstrate that kind of impact. I think this video does a great job:

As you can see, all three of the resources I highlight in this post are connected to PERTS, and you can learn about everything they offer by visiting their site.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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