Overlapping Evidence-Based Practices Using Growth Mindset, Trauma-Informed, and Inclusive Teaching

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In Spring 2022 we had talks from three nationally recognized speakers on the following topics: inclusive teaching, promoting growth mindset, and trauma-informed education. Here are the descriptions of and links to each talk.

  • Growth Mindset: As Dr. Angie Bauer argued, we promote learning and resilience and reduce equity gaps when instructors and students embrace the idea that abilities can be changed and developed (Yeager & Dweck, 2020).
  • Inclusive Teaching: Dr. Addy’s IDI keynote shared more about inclusive teaching as “being responsive to the diversity our class and designing learning environments that include all of our students” (Addy, 2021).
  • Trauma-Informed Education: Dr. Mays Imad asserted that learning is promoted through class environments characterized by security or predictability, transparent communication, peer support, shared decisions, promoting student strengths, recognizing diversity and identity, and a sense of purpose (Imad, 2020).

Applying all three approaches to your work may seem daunting, but there are common, evidence-based teaching strategies that achieve all at once. We list them below, along with how they “fit” each category and linked resources.

Pre-Semester or Early in the Semester

Use positive, student-centered syllabus language.

Gather info to learn about students & build rapport.

Align learning outcomes with what you teach & assess.

  • Growth mindset: Provides outcomes clearly; students can self-assess growth 
  • Inclusive: Sets transparent goals for all and links assessment to them 
  • Trauma-informed: Promotes security with transparent communication 
  • Tools & ideas:

Discuss growth mindset and its impacts with students.

During the Semester

Publish rubrics in advance and use them for grading.

Use active and problem-based learning.

Collect and respond to exam wrapper or mid-term feedback.

  • Growth mindset: Models growth mindset as you show openness to change. 
  • Inclusive: Respects all student voices and promotes reflection 
  • Trauma-informed: Promotes reflection on strengths and shared decisions 
  • Tools & ideas:

Use multiple methods of assessment.

Late in Semester or Post-Semester

Consider authentic assessments vs. “final exams."

 

Collect and reflect upon student feedback.

Resources on Dual Domain Pedagogy and Growth Mindset

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.

  • 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?

  • 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.