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Growth Mindset Intervention at the Community College Level: A Multiple Methods Examination of the Effects on Faculty and Students

  • Author(s): Powers, Miguel Daavid
  • Advisor(s): Christie, Christina A
  • et al.
Abstract

The problem of college student success rates, especially for basic skills students, is well documented. The current study builds on established growth mindset research as an effective non-cognitive approach. Although research has documented the effects of a growth mindset in other populations, scant research examines the concept at the community college level.

This study used a multiple methods experimental design to examine the short-term effects of a brief growth mindset intervention on basic skills English faculty and students at two California community colleges. Using random assignment, intervention faculty were trained to present six sessions encouraging students to adopt a growth mindset—the belief that one’s intelligence can grow through intelligent practice.

Intervention faculty (n = 9) completed pre-test and post-test surveys and a series of reflections, as well as an interview and focus groups. Intervention students (n = 208) completed intervention response sheets and closed-ended pre- and post-intervention surveys. Comparison faculty (n = 9) and students (n = 223) completed closed-ended pre- and post-intervention surveys. Furthermore, outcome data regarding student course completion and success were collected.

Results demonstrate that all intervention faculty changed their mindsets, and their view of students. Consequently, faculty changed their assignments, class discussions and grading practices to foster a growth mindset. All faculty will embed growth mindset as a fundamental element of their teaching.

For students, the qualitative data suggest changes in student mindset and behavior, but results from statistical analyses were mixed. Most students changed their mindset (p < .05) and reported new attitudes and behaviors, confirming research with students in other contexts. Importantly, most students reported transferring growth mindset attitudes and behaviors beyond the intervention class, especially to math. Further, many students reported adopting a new response to challenge. While students reported changes, and achieved high success rates, there were few statistically significant results.

The results suggest that given classroom strategies and a chance for reflective collaboration, community college faculty will practice growth mindset and create new approaches to encourage students to learn from criticism, embrace challenge, and rethink failure. The results also suggest their students will respond and transfer their new approaches.

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