April 8

Deeper Learning #4

Another great concept I took away from #DLMOOC is related to academic mindsets. We had a week devoted to this topic, identifying the differences between a fixed (intelligence is static) and a growth (intelligence can be developed) mindset, and how to foster a growth mindset among students, AND in our own life and practice.

Eduardo Briceño, of Mindset Works, further refines the growth mindset into four learning mindsets:

A Growth Mindset: “I can change my intelligence and abilities through effort.”
Self-Efficacy: “I can succeed.”
Sense of Belonging: “I belong in this learning community.”
Relevance: “This work has value and purpose for me.”

Several aspects of the PBL (Project-based Learning) methodology foster these mindsets, beginning with relevance. Students have voice (express their opinions and desires) and choice in the real-world topics they tackle, and in how they transform their learning into a product they present to a public audience.

As students plan their projects, they develop a growth mindset, starting with taking responsibility for identifying the effort and skills required to complete their project. Project development is typically an iterative process, wherein the students’ work is reviewed at intervals, and they receive feedback from their peers and facilitator (teacher). Each iteration results in improvements, and also reinforces the idea that effort results in change of intelligence and abilities.

Projects are often implemented in small collaborative groups, thereby developing and reinforcing the sense of belonging. Each group member has specific tasks they are responsible for, and their individual work contributes to the overall quality and success of the project.

Self-efficacy shines during the public exhibition of completed projects. I believe, when at all possible, the audience should include not only other students, teachers, and parents, but also community members who are knowledgeable and passionate about the topic(s) being exhibited. What better way to reinforce to students that their learning has relevance?

I realize my tone here is serious. I really care about this topic. Mindsets, and the way PBL is an effective methodology to employ to develop the learning mindsets that allow all students to flourish.

The full Eduardo Briceño article may be found here: