Growth Mindset = Higher GPA

recent report revealed what many of us already know: Students with a growth mindset (believing that intelligence can be improved) rather than a fixed mindset (believing that intelligence is a fixed trait) are more engaged in class and have higher GPAs. Faculty have tremendous potential to help students shape their mindset to be more growth oriented, but only if they believe that students are capable of learning.  A 2018 survey of over 6,000 faculty indicated that 24% believe that student intelligence is “set” and cannot be improved…and that is very concerning. Some training programs are famous for telling students on the first day of class to “Look at the person on your left and on your right. One of them won’t make it through this program.” That is an unfortunate, anxiety-producing, and fixed mindset that can discourage students from persisting after a setback. A better way to inspire students in the face of a setback, such as a poor test grade, is to frame conversations with them around strategies for improvement (i.e. “You could study with a group next time”) rather than innate abilities (“you’re just not good at Math”).

Who are your students?

Today’s tip is “Get to know your students.”

During New Faculty Orientation an accomplished professor from Business told a powerful story of a dedicated instructor who poured hundreds of hours of time into course design, but did not know the name of a single student. Evaluations revealed the students had a disappointing experience in the class despite the extensive planning.

Names are one way we can get to know our students, but there are others, too. Every year, Beloit College publishes their “Mindset List” detailing the life experiences of incoming students. Here are a few highlights that might help you get to know your students:

  • They have grown up treating Wi-Fi as an entitlement.
  • The therapeutic use of marijuana has always been legal in a growing number of American states.
  • The Lion Kinghas always been on Broadway.
  • Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have always been members of NATO.

The time we take to get to know a little about our students as a group and as individuals tends to pay off in the form of a more dynamic classroom and a better learning environment for all of our students.