Recently Dr. Angela Bauer, former UWGB instructor and current Vice President of Academic Affairs at High Point University, visited our institution and presented her research regarding the equity gaps in introductory science courses. We invite you to engage with the readings and videos below to learn more about dual domain pedagogy (both cognitive & affective) and its relationship to equity gaps in the college classroom. If you would like to talk more about how you might use this information in your teaching, feel free to request a consultation with a CATL member. Please remember as you consider these resources that growth mindset interventions should not be used to de-legitimize real structural, systemic, economic, etc., obstacles that students face.
- On Mar. 4, 2022, Angie Bauer visited the Green Bay campus and gave a presentation on her research titled Tapping into the Affective Domain of Learning to Close Classroom Performance Gaps. View the recording by clicking on the link and then logging in with your UWGB credentials.
- You can also read the study that Dr. Bauer contributed to, Fostering Equitable Outcomes in Introductory Biology Courses through Use of Dual Domain Pedagogy. The article describes Dr. Bauer’s work at High Point, including growth mindset interventions and the impact on equity gaps.
A great place to start learning about growth and fixed mindsets is with the work of Carol Dweck, who is the psychologist best known for research on this concept. Watch this 50-minute talk on YouTube which Dweck gave in 2019 at the Annual Convention of the American Psychology Association, or, for a shorter watch, check out her TED Talk from 2014. You can also read the first three chapters of her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, online for free. These are, of course, just a starting place—to dig deeper, check out the research articles in other sections of this guide.
- The researchers in this article provide a good critical review of recent studies on growth mindset interventions and then describe the results of their own study that used a series of infographics to promote growth mindset (the intervention materials are provided in the article). Their quantitative and qualitative results are shared, but one of the key takeaways was that students randomly assigned to the intervention tended to view intelligence as significantly more malleable.
- In this article from Teaching Philosophy, instructors from four different institutions of higher education review specific actions that can be taken to foster growth mindset, which they also see as key to inclusive teaching. They also review teaching strategies related to transparency, flexibility, and considerations of authority in the classroom.
- In addition to exploring research on fixed and growth mindsets, the authors of this article also present and test a measure of mindset that could be an interesting tool to use in your classes to discuss the concept.
- The authors of this piece share a 5-component growth mindset teaching approach that can be used in higher education and research that demonstrates it increases growth mindset in students and decreases fixed mindset.
- In a study of growth mindset interventions in a first-year mathematics course, the researchers found that the growth mindset interventions they tested were significantly associated with greater student persistence on the final exam. The specific intervention protocols are described in a way that instructors could replicate (see p. 69) and are relatively easy to implement (e.g., having students write a letter, read and respond to prompts based on an article, etc.).
- Although this may not initially seem like a piece on growth mindset interventions, the authors in this article describe research indicating some of the benefits students receive from peer review, including building social networks and resilience.
- For a good overview of growth and fixed mindsets, including specific examples, research findings, and even videos illustrating educators using growth mindset language in class, check out this guide from the MIT Teaching + Learning Lab.
- Also found on the MIT Teaching + Learning Lab site is Dr. Elizabeth Canning's 1-hour talk about growth mindset and research surrounding the impact of instructors’ mindset on student success. There’s also a written summary of some of the relevant research on this site. Note some of her full articles are included in the "Influence of Instructor Mindset on Students" section of this post.
- Academic Affairs at the University of Arizona has a series of "Learning to Learn" strategies for teaching and learning, including an overview of growth mindset with videos and practical tips for instructors.
- One potential growth mindset intervention, if used well, is normalizing struggles and even failure. Read about Stanford University’s institutional attempt at reinforcing this idea and watch brief videos from the project.
- Transforming Education has some sample strategies for supporting students' growth mindset, as well as a growth mindset toolkit. Although intended for K-12 educators, these sites provide some helpful, practical tips about encouraging growth mindset as an instructor that could be adapted for higher education, as well as video clips, PowerPoint presentations, and graphics.
- Dr. Bauer referenced the affective domain of learning in her "dual domain pedagogy" intervention. The affective domain is an extension of Bloom's taxonomy created by psychologist David Krathwohl, one of Bloom's colleagues. We are typically more familiar with the cognitive domain, but this document by Indiana University provides a nice overview of the affective realm.
A critical research finding is that instructor mindset influences multiple factors for student success, including students' motivation, academic performance, and whether growth mindset interventions will be effective on them. These results are important to consider as we transition to becoming an access institution. If we expect students will be less capable as we embrace that mission and believe that ability is fixed, will we produce the poor results we expect?
- First, a longitudinal, university-wide study of STEM professors' mindsets and the effects on their students found that professors with a fixed mindset had larger racial achievement gaps in their classes and inspired less student motivation and, in a later study, also undermined women's performance in their classes, possibly by triggering stereotype threat. A separate study found that in STEM courses where the instructor had more fixed (vs. growth) mindset beliefs, students—particularly female students—anticipated "more negative psychological experiences, lower performance, and lower course interest."
- In a study on the role of instructor mindset in whether the instructor's teaching practices were motivating or demotivating to students, researchers found that instructors with higher growth mindset and autonomous motivation to teach tended to also use more motivating teaching practices, as opposed to those with a more fixed mindset and controlled motivation or amotivation.
- Why does the effectiveness of growth mindset interventions vary from classroom to classroom, and how can we account for these differences? A study of a sample of math instructors in higher education indicates that part of this difference can be attributed to instructor mindset. In their analysis, they found that growth mindset interventions worked best when an instructor's mindset aligned with the intervention, while these same interventions tended to fall flat when an instructor was just "talking the talk."
- It is vital to remember that growth mindset is not about telling students to “think positive” and expecting it to achieve miraculous results. For one thing, growth mindset is not the same as “thinking positively.” For another, students may experience a number of obstacles to academic success, and no one is suggesting mindset will overcome issues such as poverty. Living in poverty, for example, can be associated with a greater fixed mindset, for understandable reasons. That said, a national study suggests that children with a growth mindset had some buffer against the effects of poverty on their academic performance.
- For another interesting read, these authors explored how the mindsets of 875 organic chemistry students changed across a semester. In their analysis of students' responses, they found that students attributed their own beliefs about the malleability of intelligence to five main factors: academic experiences, observing peers, deducing logically, taking societal cues, and formal learning.
Growth mindset research is one of those areas that has endured some criticism as part of the social science “replication crisis.” For those of you interested in really digging into that, the articles below are good resources. We also include them because they do point to some of the nuance involved in this work. For example, the success of growth mindset interventions on a student's academic performance may also be tied to the student's trust in their instructor, as indicated in the third article.
- "Failure to replicate: Testing a growth mindset intervention for college student success," Basic and Applied Social Psychology
- "Debate arises over teaching “growth mindsets” to motivate students," Scientific American
- "A framework of college student buy-in to evidence-based teaching practices in STEM: The role of trust and growth mindset," CBE-Life Sciences Education
- "What can be learned from growth mindset controversies?" American Psychologist