In the last five weeks I’ve been exploring learning theories and their role in creating significant learning environments at Lamar University. I’ve discovered there are many elements that must come together in order to create a learning environment that will truly engage and motivate learners. At Lamar we need to build significant learning environments that inspire students to take ownership of their learning, encourage deeper learning connections, and cultivate life-long learners. I want to facilitate the transformation of our learning environments by sharing with you the ideas and methods I’ve learned in this course and implement them. My hope is that you begin to see the importance of designing significant learning environments so that we can meet the expectations and dynamic needs of today’s students.
During the first week of this semester I studied “A New Culture of Learning”. Built on constructivist theories, the “new” culture of learning emphasizes the importance of a learning-based approach where the teacher becomes a mentor and students learn by doing. The next week I reflected on my learning philosophy, my beliefs about how we learn, and how it influences my leadership, teaching, and learning environments. In the third and fourth weeks, I studied course design and created two course outlines using both Fink’s 3-column table from “A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning” and the “Understanding by Design” (UbD) template.
The last leg of my journey in this course introduced me to Carol Dweck and her book “Mindset: The new psychology of success”. Dweck’s work reflects her lengthy research on mindsets and how they can be fixed or growth oriented. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their intelligence is static and is better to just look smart. Those with the growth mindset believe intelligence can be developed and improved through effort.
On the surface the growth mindset doesn’t seem like such a new idea. When I was in school, way back when, I knew that the harder I worked the better my grades would be. I learned that my success or failure was a direct result of my effort or lack of it. However, Dweck goes much further by explaining the effects that society, praise, parents, and teachers have on mindset. According to Dweck, we have a choice on which mindset we possess and she explains in 4 steps how to change it. Although mindsets can be changed, it won’t happen overnight. Maintaining a growth mindset is an ongoing process. These are the four steps:
- Learn to hear your fixed mindset “voice”.
- Recognize that you have a choice.
- Talk back to it with a growth mindset voice.
- Take the growth mindset action.
A growth mindset is important in order to achieve significant learning in any environment. The growth mindset focuses on stretching your mind and going beyond your comfort zone to learn something new. It is persistent in the face of possible failure and yearns for feedback in order to improve. It embodies the true meaning of learning and how to learn. This is the reason why the growth mindset has such a positive impact on learning and contributes to a significant learning environment. It has the power to transform the mind and learning itself.
The growth mindset is an idea that has to be learned and shared with others frequently. The best way to promote the growth mindset is through modeling the behavior. Here are some ideas I found for faculty professional development on applying the growth mindset:
- Model the growth mindset and teach faculty how to model the growth mindset for their students. We are all learners and have room for improvement!
- Provide opportunities for and encourage teachers to try new things or ideas ( mobile learning and BYOD) and learn from their experiments. The outcomes are uncertain but it will be an opportunity to grow from the process. You just don’t know how to…YET.
- Provide opportunities for reflection on their experiments or implementation of new things or ideas. What worked, what didn’t, and how can I improve?
While I was researching the growth mindset online I found several valuable resources consisting of websites, articles, and blog posts that promote the growth mindset and will help me share what I’ve learned with Lamar faculty. I’m confident that everything I’ve learned over the last five weeks has truly prepared me to successfully plan for and implement significant learning environments that are much needed in education today.
Resources to Promote the Growth Mindset
- http://www.mindsetworks.com/free-resources/ – Mindset Works is the global leader in growth mindset training for educators and students, leveraging the pioneering research of their co-founders Carol Dweck and Lisa Blackwell. Their mission is to enable a world in which people seek and are fulfilled by ongoing learning and growth.
- http://www.edutopia.org/article/growth-mindset-resources – Find information about growth mindset, discover how learning mindsets can affect student performance, and explore strategies that support student confidence.
- https://www.mindsetkit.org/ – The Mindset Kit is a free set of online lessons and practices designed to help you teach and foster adaptive beliefs about learning.
- http://mindsetonline.com/ – Carol Dweck’s Mindset Website, all things Mindset!
- http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/ – The Best Resources On Helping Our Students Develop A “Growth Mindset” according to Larry Ferlazzo in his Oct 2012 blog post.
- Twitter Resources: @Brainology, @mindsetworks
Davidson, C. (2015, December 26). Professors Need a Growth Mindset Before Higher Ed Can Change #fight4edu #EngagedScholar #FuturesEd. [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.hastac.org/blogs/cathy-davidson/2015/12/26/professors-need-growth-mindset-higher-ed-can-change-fight4edu
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
Heggart, K. (2015, February 2). Developing a Growth Mindset in Teachers and Staff. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/discussion/developing-growth-mindset-teachers-and-staff?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow