Growth Mindset versus Fixed Mindset Classrooms

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Obadiah, Apr 27, 2016.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,555
    Likes Received:
    733

    May 5, 2016

    That is so true -- one of my MAT profs always said "there is nothing new under the sun."

    That being said, the idea of "growth mindset" may not be new, but culturally, I do think it is a relatively recent shift. I worked with a really "old-school" teacher once who was always saying things like "they're a low class" or "he's a low student in math" or "she's high in reading" -- sometimes even making statements like these to the kids! She really believed that students either were naturally "good" at something or they weren't, and whether she meant it that way or not, her students took her words literally and would shut down in the areas she considered them to be "low" in. I have heard similar things since, and have seen the same on this board. So for you this might not be new, but for some and perhaps many, the idea is new. The brain research behind it -- the scientific evidence to back up these claims -- is relatively new, as well. So I suppose we could apply our growth mindset regarding other teachers (and ourselves) and their beliefs, as well.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  2. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 5, 2016

    I agree with your examples.

    Now pause and think about it. A teacher, teaching new things to students, does not believe that hard work, positive attitude, effort, will lead to learning.....

    Does one really believe the term underachiever is a new concept and was not present in our culture until recently...

    I love growth mindset, I am just baffled that the ideas of hard work, effort, growth oover time through training, and positive attitude are somehow new ideas. I have heard all of these statements for as long as I can remember and in every context.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,470
    Likes Received:
    1,446

    May 5, 2016

    I'm a little late to the conversation...

    I don't have much to add, but I did read Dweck's book last year. My principal bought a copy for every teacher on staff, and we were supposed to have a whole-staff book club using the book. That is until people complained about being required to do reading outside of contract hours. I decided to read the book anyway over spring break, just out of curiosity.

    I agree with EdEd. Overall, I was pretty underwhelmed by the book. As Pashtun suggested, a lot of it seemed to be just generally good teaching practices and, really, just generally good life practices. It seemed like common sense to me. That said, it did cause me to reflect on the words and practices I use in my classroom. It served as sort of a "check and balance" on my own integrity and led me to look at my practices to make sure that they were actually in line with my beliefs. I think the book might be more useful to parents or the general population - people who don't get degrees in teaching/learning/education. Dweck's book actually only had one chapter that specifically related to education (from what I can remember), and the rest was really more of a general self-help/social science book. While a growth mindset might come pretty naturally to many of us who pursue careers in education, that's not as frequently the case with people outside of the field.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  4. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,752
    Likes Received:
    217

    May 7, 2016

    I might take it a step further in terms of your Dweck assessment and the helpfulness of packaging research. A lot of times, research - it it's raw form - it's necessarily useful. Think about the broad subject of "beginning reading" - there are thousands of studies, all of which may yield slightly different nuanced layers of "effective beginning reading instruction." It's beyond the limits of time & even comprehension for most teachers to sift through the entirety of literature surrounding beginning reading and craft their own worldview on the subject from scratch. So, synthesizing research becomes an important task. My critique of Dweck's book specifically aside, the concept that Dweck would summarize research for mass consumption isn't simply a moneymaking endeavor that dumbs down information for lazy teachers, but is of critical value as a vehicle for delivery of research to practice.

    I do think you could still make an argument that even her summary is stale, but I personally haven't seen the organization of research around the concept of "growth mindset" done in that way before. In this way, I think the "growth mindset" concept is more unique, even if it draws on some research that may be old.

    Now, I might compare that with something like "grit" or "rigor" - to me, these concepts are almost completely redundant with previous concepts (e.g., "perseverance" and the idea of delivering the most challenging instruction on a child's instructional level). So, Pashtun, I think everything you're saying is valid on a general level, I just don't think the shoe fits with Dweck's "Growth Mindset."
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  5. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 7, 2016

    So EdEd, what is/was the summary that is opening eyes? What in the book should most teachers be taking back to their practice for reflection that they are not already considering?
     
  6. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 7, 2016

    Again, agreed. If this was the purpose, its fine..disseminating the information. I simply am baffled by anyone that has reflected on their life experiences can not come to the conclusion of growth mindset...especially in the teaching profession. The growth mindset permeates every aspect of our lives, it is very different than synthesizing beginning reading.
     
  7. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 7, 2016

    I am yet to see anyone on these boards or at a conference present a growth mindset "strategy" that has really had an impact on me, except for the idea of reflecting on are your words, actions, and practices all in line, and this is more about good reflection than growth mindset.

    I may need to read the book.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,752
    Likes Received:
    217

    May 8, 2016

    Pashtun, for me there have been a few take home points that have proven interesting beyond what I previously thought about:

    1) The idea of "attitude" as an intervention target. Typically, in my background and training, we think about skills.

    2) The idea of actually teaching kids about neural pathways and how the brain works.

    3) The metaphor of the brain as a "muscle" that can be exercised and grown stronger.

    4) The idea of "good" mistakes.

    5) The idea that struggle should be interpreted as a good thing and a sign of growth, not as a sign of weakness.

    6) The research showing that kids who welcome and appreciate challenge do better.

    7) The idea that if kids aren't making mistakes and struggling, they probably aren't really learning. Teaching kids to know this, rather than to see success as a state in which things are easy.

    As an example of a strategy, I love asking kids, "What was your best mistake today?" That sets the expectation of challenge & growth, and creates an atmosphere where mistakes are not only permitted, but valued.

    To your point, none of the points above are new, but I've found that they have a unique effect in my practice over other strategies I've used in the past. There seems to be something about externalizing & normalizing struggle, and giving kids a biological explanation for it (i.e., struggle is good and a sign of growth, not a sign of weakness) that seems to prompt an attitude shift and a greater willingness to embrace challenge.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  9. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 8, 2016

    I really owe an immense debt of gratitude to 2 teachers that shaped my career over 10 years ago. I will truly never be able to repay them. Thank you all for the conversation., I have thought about this and realized a few things.
    1. The growth mindset trend has made it much easier for me to find short videos to show the class. They now permeate youtube. My collection has grown from a small handful to over 30.
    2. I have started to use songs to support the growth mindset, this is new, and due to the trend.
    3. I will be having students make videos of themselves for growth mindset in the template of cross the line and Finish Strong.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
    EdEd and Obadiah like this.
  10. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,326
    Likes Received:
    808

    May 8, 2016

    This seems to be the most important aspect of growth mindset teaching, the definition of struggling students. All throughout my teaching career, I've heard "struggling" defined as "inability" or "slow student". Dweck, Boaler, and others define "struggling" as "learning." I get the impression from Boaler that struggle is normal learning or at least expected learning, because students who do not struggle are not learning as much as they could. Boaler reshapes and re-paces the classroom to adjust lessons so that all students experience appropriate struggle, appropriate in that it leads to success (by not requiring unlearned concepts to be successful). Boaler's cited research indicates that this slower pacing eventually culminates in achievement beyond the levels of a classroom using traditionally paced lessons. Boaler apparently eliminates the idea of a student falling behind in learning the year's material.

    I'm trying to approach my personal research in this area with an open mind and skepticism. Personally, based on everything I've ever read (old and new) and my experience, I feel that a classroom that totally eliminates giving papers an overall percentage grade or letter grade, embraces correcting errors, explores concepts heterogeneously, depends more on student exploration but doesn't eliminate teacher instruction, diminishes working for prizes, and expounds on specific achievement rather than praises students as "smart" will experience remarkable achievement. But I feel it's important for me to ask a skeptical question, do the results of the cited research seem too good to be true?
     
    EdEd likes this.
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 8, 2016

    I am not sure about eliminating a grade completely. My personal experiences do not support this, at least in its entirety. Research supports you should not give a grade alongside feedback, as the grade will cancel out any feedback.

    I will give you, what is in my opinion, the perfect real world example.

    Ask your students the following question about video games, "how many of you play online video games with other players? How many of you have made claims that "that is impossible, they are cheating""

    The reality is most of the other players probably are not cheating, they understand the core mechanics and theory of the game. The other players have done more research, collaboration, and practice than the others.

    My point being, knowing where you stand in comparison to others is important to personal growth, without it one is more likely to think they are reaching their potential when they are far short of it
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  12. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,470
    Likes Received:
    1,446

    May 8, 2016

    I agree with you on this, but I think that there is a distinct difference between a "grade" and "feedback". Grading, as it is often done in the classroom, frequently doesn't allow students to know where they stand in comparison to others. It's often just some arbitrary number or letter that tells them if they are "good enough" for their teacher/parents or not. Personally, I would love to do away with letters and numbers as we use them (the A-F scale and percentages based on teacher-determined points possible). I get that this is not realistic in today's schools though. So, I give grades because I am required to, but I find that feedback and growth scores (whether percentiles on a standardized assessment or growth on the F&P guided reading continuum... or something else altogether) is more beneficial for me and my students... and for the parents who are willing to attempt to understand a new way of gauging where their children stand.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  13. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 8, 2016

     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 8, 2016

    Yes, that's why grades and feedback don't go hand in hand on the same assignment.

    I am very curious about percentiles, why do you find them better than grades. Aren't percentiles very similar in that they compare a student to all other students of the same age on a given assessment? Seems like the correlation would be the same, no?

    I am fine with percentile scores, I just don't really see how these are different from grade level equivalents or grades.
     
    a2z and Obadiah like this.
  15. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,470
    Likes Received:
    1,446

    May 8, 2016

    I guess it depends how the teacher is grading. It seems to me that many assignments are graded very arbitrarily by any given teacher. One teacher might give one grade, while another teacher might assign another on any usual class assignment, even if a rubric is used. In the end, it's just a letter, number of points, or a percent... all of which are pretty meaningless overall, as they don't usually give a good idea of where a student is performing in relation to standards or peers - although the use of a rubric does help.

    When I mentioned percentiles, I was thinking of them in terms of a standardized assessment (like AIMSweb or the NWEA MAP test... neither of which I think are perfect assessments but can be useful in some ways). Assessments like those tell you where a student stands in comparison to other students across the country, district, or school. I would say the same is true for an assessment that gives a grade-level equivalent. For this reason, I find percentiles and grade-level equivalents to be meaningful data. I just don't think that the grade a teacher writes on an assignment tells as much about a student's performance.

    I am all for standards-based grading, combined with frequent and meaningful feedback. I just don't think that the traditional method of grading assignments and assigning grades on a report card really tells us as much.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  16. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 8, 2016

    Yeah, I tend to agree. I think it depends on the type of assignments that are graded. I only grade assessments(quizzes) in my class, everything else is debriefed and may include feedback. I do think there is a difference between looking at and giving grades in a given class versus across classes and grade levels.

    My quizzes are all criterion based, so I think the score or grade is easily usable especially since I use mine to track growth over time on standards.

    I was just curious about percentile scores versus grades versus grade level equivalents. I read something the other day that said grade level equivalents are frowned upon and percentile scores are superior. Well, I checked on of our assessments and the two correlated perfectly, I couldn't understand why one is encouraged and the other discouraged.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  17. a2z

    a2z Maven

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2010
    Messages:
    5,741
    Likes Received:
    1,664

    May 9, 2016

    I have trouble with this statement.

    A person with a great memory who is advanced in their ability to connect concepts and think abstractly can learn a lot of things without struggling. They are still learning. They are really learning even without the struggle.

    There was no struggle when I learned calculus in HS. I listened, I comprehended, and I did the assigned work and assessments. Does this mean I didn't really learn? No. It just meant I had the ability and the preparation to understand the topic presented and in the manner it was presented.

    Putting the finger on what "struggle" really means to learning is difficult. I'm struggling to come up with a good statement to indicate what struggle means because it doesn't always mean learning. Sometimes it just means going in circles. Some would like to say learning because you are supposedly learning what doesn't work, but often that is not the case either.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  18. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,752
    Likes Received:
    217

    May 9, 2016

    This is a fair statement a2z. I see what you mean. And yes, I'd revise my statement to mean that "struggle" can be a sign of learning, but isn't a required condition for it.
     
  19. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,752
    Likes Received:
    217

    May 9, 2016

    In terms of grading, I think what's more helpful (and, unfortunately a lot more work) is removing finality from grading. However you grade - grades, percentiles, rubrics, etc. - letting kids continue to work toward mastery and improve grades may be helpful. Obviously, this isn't realistic completely in most classroom, but I'd advocate for something like this in situations like homework and other less reportable grading requirements that occur in the context of instruction. In this way, kids don't see a grade as a final judgement, but as feedback that can actually be integrated and used to improve. If a grade is final, how is a child supposed to take that as feedback (other than for doing things differently on the next learning segment)?
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  20. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2013
    Messages:
    2,985
    Likes Received:
    435

    May 9, 2016

    But that is valid. IMO, there is no such thing as a summative assessment, it simply does not exist, everything is formative. Everyone has an opportunity to learn and improve even on so called final exams or summative tests. Learning should be interconnected and ongoing.
     
    Obadiah, bella84 and MrsC like this.
  21. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2015
    Messages:
    1,326
    Likes Received:
    808

    May 10, 2016

    That's been going through my mind, too, and I totally agree. In any research, the terminology can be misleading, and I too am wondering if the term "struggle" is an accurate term to define all learning. In such cases as mentioned by a2z, I'm wondering if it's more similar to a correction rather than a struggle. Perhaps even more definitively, could all learning be defined as a paradigm shift. Perhaps a paradigm shifts in one of four ways: changing what the student thought s/he knew, confirming what the student already knew, adding to what the student already knew, or providing the student with totally new information. In all three cases, though, the new information is connected with previously learned knowledge. I am still seeing a strong benefit in challenging all students in the classroom.
     
  22. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,752
    Likes Received:
    217

    May 10, 2016

    So in terms of the "struggle" conversation, I'd add this: new information (which is, to be sure, "learning") can definitely occur without struggle. However, I'd suggest that "struggle" - as in the child experiences the physical & psychological affects of challenging materials - does suggest a greater intensity of learning. Simply put, "struggle" is just the experience effect of a learning objective being at a greater level of challenge for the individual.

    In a2z's description, I'd suggest that everyone - from the "smartest" to the "least smart" can experience "struggle" if the material is of a certain level of difficulty compared with that individual's current skill level.

    If you think about it, this is sort of how we have operationalized "instructional level" for a while now - that a student's performance drops below mastery level, but not so far as to be at "frustrational level" - in short, we've quantified "struggle" by suggesting that the student doesn't perform as well at the task, thereby needing instruction.
     
    Obadiah and Pashtun like this.

Share This Page

Members Online Now

Total: 196 (members: 0, guests: 183, robots: 13)
test