Why does it matter?
The question “Most of my teachers don’t let people give up when the work gets hard” — which students answer on a Likert scale — provides a closer look at whether teachers support student resilience. By asking students to persist when a task is hard teachers communicate that they believe that all students can learn.
Building growth mindsets in the classroom
Carol Dweck studies the importance of failure, persistence, and growth mindset on learning. Education Week writer Sarah Sparks highlights a few quick-wins from Dweck for how both teachers and students can develop their capacities to learn and grow.
Here are some helpful class assignments to probe students’ thinking about their own academic mindsets:
Identify contexts that tend to trigger a fixed mindset. Students and teachers alike can believe skills are more or less fixed depending on the context; someone who feels math skills are innate may believe reading ability can be developed. Dweck said that teachers can help students recognize when and why they feel differently about different subjects or skills.
Plan and do something “outrageously growth mindset” such as tackling a challenging project in an area outside their comfort zone.
Try to change another student’s mindset. Dweck described activities in which each student around the class said one area they were struggling with; other students often jumped in with both support and suggestions, such as study groups.
Write a letter from yourself, 20 years in the future, identifying the most important thing you have learned. Students, she said, “torture themselves all the time with upward social comparison. There’s always going to be someone better than you; so what? You need this set of skills, so do it.”