Fostering A Positive Growth Mindset Among Students at the Top Colleges In the US Posted byMelanie Datu January 21, 2022June 16, 2022 Providing students with the information they need to learn could be the foundation of colleges and universities. However, educators also may face a bigger challenge. That is the student’s mindset. If a student does not believe he or she has the ability to learn and doubt their ability to comprehend information, educators are faced with much more substantial tasks. One concept that may help with this is a growth mindset. It stems from the belief that if students believe they have the ability to learn, they may be able to do just that. Educators may need to help foster this belief in students to give them the ability to move forward with their education and achieve their goals. What Is Growth Mindset? Growth mindset is a rather complex topic. It’s based on how people view their ability to learn. Some people have a fixed mindset. That means they believe their abilities are innate, something they are born with. By contrast, others have a growth mindset in that they believe they can study and work hard to achieve or acquire new abilities. Depending on what a person believes, they may or may not take on the challenges to learn a specific task. This may profoundly affect the way people respond to failure as well. Those who have a fixed mindset suffer a failure and believe it is the result of something they just were not born to do. They believe it is a lack of ability. Those who have a growth mindset are more likely to see the failure as an opportunity to work harder and smarter to expand their abilities. Another way to look at these differences is by considering them in terms of goals. A person who has a fixed mindset often believes that they want to appear as though they are intelligent – but they do so because they believe that if they fail to show that they are intelligent, that reveals a weakness. They want to do whatever it takes to not appear unintelligent. By contrast, a person with a growth mindset is not too concerned with these types of topics and is much less apprehensive about learning new things or engaging because they don’t view their intelligence and reputation to be on the line. They believe they are able to improve the task or outcome through some type of effort. A person with a growth mindset wants to overcome challenges. While this may seem like a limitation that educators are unable to overcome, that does not have to be the case. In fact, these beliefs are not immovable states. A person may be able to learn how to change their focus and shift from one to the other. For example, educators may move away from praising a student’s results and outcomes. Instead, they could praise the amount of work that the student put into the project and the challenges they overcame to reach this point. In many ways, then, educators may be likely to help foster a strong growth mindset in just how they communicate with students. What Are the Benefits of a Growth Mindset in a College Setting? It’s easy to see the value of a growth mindset. It could enable a student to achieve more and work harder to do so. A student might learn they may be able to do anything rather than feel limited by just their abilities. This fosters a number of benefits in students like: Students may be more likely to pursue challenging situations and tasks. Students who have a growth mindset may be more likely to take on the challenge. They are often more likely to learn something that is more challenging, whether it is helping with a research project or achieving their own goals. Motivation in the classroom may be higher. There is some indication that a student with a growth mindset may be more likely to remain motivated in the classroom. That may help them participate more readily and work towards a higher level of understanding than those who struggle to remain engaged when they don’t seem to get a topic quickly. Some students may use that same mindset after leaving college and entering the workforce. That may help contribute to improvements in their ability to work in the field and contribute to research or the industry as a whole. It’s important to note that growth mindset beliefs is not a fully understood topic, but it is one that many businesses and schools have focused on as a way to help foster improvements in education in students. More research is necessary to determine the reach of the benefits of a growth mindset. How does this help a student in a college setting? It may help them to overcome challenges they face during their education process. Tough subjects feel less like a wall of impossibility and more of a challenge to overcome. Students may perform better in the long term. If they believe they may be able to learn something by just working harder, rather than giving up. Student motivation in a topic or area of study may help them achieve more in that field. That could lead to better performance but also better job satisfaction later. How Do Educators Foster a Growth Mindset? The question is, how does an educator or the college itself foster a growth mindset in students? It’s no simple process to change the way a person thinks or their belief system. Fostering this type of mindset takes time and practice by educators. At the core of the process may be to work to build instruction that helps to reinforce the idea that students may have the ability to improve their ability. Curriculum and communications may need to focus heavily on demonstrating this whenever possible. The basic first step may be to shift a focus away from outcomes and instead focus on process and efforts. That often goes back to the goal of praising the effort and learning steps a student takes rather than just the accomplishments of those who succeed. The growth mindset often focuses on effort. For example, a student may be struggling with a math problem. Instead of stating, “maybe math isn’t your thing,” the educator might recognize the challenge but states, “as you learn something new, it could help you to develop a math brain.” Another example is not to pat the student on the back with a statement like, “You tried as hard as you could.” Instead, the educator may make a statement like, “The goal isn’t for you to get this correct the first time but rather to look at this problem in a step by step approach. So, what can you try to do next?” There are a few key rules educators can apply to help their college students to move towards a growth mindset. This may include: Make the struggle more normalized. That is, don’t praise those who get something correct the first time. Make it seem expected that struggling is a part of the learning process and very much normal. When challenges happen, encourage students to engage even more so. Make it fun and exciting when possible. Talk about how something that’s easy is actually pretty boring. Focus on the benefits of achieving a difficult task. They may help to improve the function of the brain or help build “brain muscles.” There is value in completing hard tasks. A growth mindset may be a valuable tool for many college students to learn. It may help them achieve more and find a way through even those more difficult obstacles. Instead of looking for the student with the innate skill, seek out the student with the willingness to overcome challenges to achieve positive outcomes. How the Growth Mindset Fits into the College Classroom A growth mindset is an important tool for college students. Learn more about how educators could foster a growth mindset in a college setting for their students.