Sunday, November 27, 2016


Almost 10 years ago, Po Brownson published an article in New York Magazine “How Not to Talk to Your Kids.”  Based on early research of Dweck and others, she argued that praising personal traits (such as intelligence) can have detrimental effect on motivation and performance.

There has been growing body of literature underscoring the potential of intentional “wise criticism” on improving students’ performance. For example, Cohen, Yeager, and others have demonstrated that so-called “wise feedback” (i.e. emphasizing teacher’s high standards and belief that students were capable of meeting them”) resulted in improved quality of student’s work and that the improvement was particularly strong for students “who felt more mistrusting of school” (see this link for the full article).

MINDSETKIT has an excellent cycle of lessons on how to encourage growth mindset by praising process rather than the person, embracing challenges and mistakes, and using formative assessment and peer feedback.

There are many on-line resources with practical tips on how to include growth mindset feedback in the classroom (see for example LarryFerlazzo's Blog, the GrowthMindset Feedback Tool, and Teaching Growth Mindset with Carol Dweck.)

Sunday, November 20, 2016


David Gross (UMASS) and Peter Newbury (UCSD) put together a presentation on first class do’s and don't’s in the context of supporting students’ motivation and growth mindset. The key is to use the first lesson to begin establishing academic mindset focused on four key beliefs (see the full reference here):
“I belong in this learning community” (sense of belonging)
“My ability and mastery will growth with my effort” (growth mindset)
“I am able to succeed at this” (self-efficacy)
“This class/work has value for me” (relevance) 
For example, telling students why the course is interesting and worthwhile and that you think they can succeed if they put in the effort, contributes to improved sense of belonging and thus increased motivation. Conversely, telling students that some of them are expected to fail (as the class is traditionally considered difficult) or emphasizing rules and penalties on the first day, contributes to belonging uncertainty, particularly among students who might be unsure about their choices or abilities.

Mindset Kit provides an excellent cycle of lessons on belonging, describing small but important cues in the environment that can promote or hinder belonging in the classroom: Belonging for Educators (13 lessons, 45 minutes to complete).

Other useful resources:
100 Growth Mindset Quotes
Growth Mindset Comparisons for Educators
MindShift (large collection of materials and teaching strategies)
Growth Mindset Lesson Plan (from Khan Academy)
CNSM How to Succeed website

Saturday, November 12, 2016


In Boosting Achievement with Messages that Motivate,” Carol Dweck describes how classroom messages can help in developing growth mindset, thus enhancing student’s motivation and ultimately resulting in greater achievement. The next three posts will discuss practical strategies for encouraging growth mindset in the classroom: how you can use the course structure, syllabus, assessment, feedback, and communication to foster growth mindset.

The syllabus can be used to encourage growth mindset by including messages or policies that focus on incremental development and improvement, put value on hard work and effort as a way to achieve mastery, and provide opportunity for formative feedback. Santa Monica College partners with PERTS Lab at Stanford University and UCLA in a student success initiative called GRIT. Their website offers a rubric intended to assess how your current syllabus encourages growth mindset, several examples of growth mindset and fixed mindset language, and a handout on fostering deep learning by incorporating the principles of growth mindset and grit.

Sunday, November 6, 2016


The Teaching Center website provides wealth of information on the phenomenon of stereotype threat (please see this video with a short explanation of stereotype threat).  The term stereotype threat was originally coined by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson in the early 1990s, and defined as a
situational predicament in which people are or feel themselves to be at risk of conforming to stereotypes about their social group.
Research suggests that stereotype threat reduces the individual’s working memory capacity thus impeding performance (see also an article by Schmader, Johns, and Forbes, An Integrated Process Model of Stereotype Threat Effects on Performance).

Teaching growth mindset reduces stereotype threat (see this powerpoint overview by Beth Fisher, Washington University in St. Louis). For example, Aronson, Fried and Good have demonstrated that teaching African American students that intelligence is malleable improves performance (see Aronson, Fried, and Good full study). In another study Cohen and others demonstrated that brief writing assignment designated to “reaffirm students sense of personal adequacy or self-integrity” improved grades of African American students and reduced the achievement gap.

Dr. Greg Walton, Department of Psychology at Stanford University, has an excellent website with resources on growth mindset, belonging interventions, and stereotype threat.

There are many additional examples of how growth mindset can help reducing stereotype threat:
  • An excellent “Belonging for Educators” lesson on mindsetkit 
  • A 2-page handout by American Bar Association on how growth mindset reduces implicit bias and stereotype threat
  • An article on problems with believing in innate talent (see link here)
  • An article in Science Magazine on women in stem (see link here)
  • A lecture in stereotype threat by Joshua Aronson

  • A lecture on stereotype threat in STEM by Claude Steele

  • A panel conversation (Drs. Claude Steele, Carol Dweck, Geoff Cohen, and Deborah Stipek) on “Identity, Motivation, and Stereotype Threat: How do they matter for learning?”