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Monday, October 21, 2019

Opinion

Developing growth mindsets boosts interest for students


Jiselle Santos/The Cougar

The human mind is manipulable to a concerning degree, but this is not an inherently bad thing. Sometimes manipulating the mind can lead to an increase in interest and academic development.

Developing a growth mindset can lead to greater passion and motivation. 

To have a growth mindset means that one believes that one’s abilities can develop through hard work and dedication. While a lot of people know why a growth mindset is important, very few use it to its full potential. 

Earlier this year, scientists in North Carolina published a study revealing that a growth mindset will lead to an increase in interest in a given topic. Students exposed to a 27-minute motivational computer program expressed greater interest in taking a computer science class. Furthermore, students rated the class as more important to their overall degree plans.  

The study consisted of a group of 491 students entering an entry-level computer science course, with half of them taking four growth mindset modules over the course of the class. After a survey, it was discovered that students who were exposed to the modules placed a higher priority on the class, which had a correlation to how much effort the students put into the class, resulting in better grades.

To some, it is clear why words of encouragement will lead to a better performance. A cynic might boil the research down to “when we tell people they can improve, they believe they can improve.” Granted, it is important to remember that people with different perspectives on life exist in the world. What might be clear to one might not be immediately apparent to others.

Regardless of how you see the research, the information is interesting because it shows the benefits of the growth mindset. When applied correctly, a growth mindset builds confidence and increases interest.

In certain courses, like computer science or architecture, this is good because these classes tend to be a bit daunting. In fact, all college courses cover a lot of material that is intimidating for the unprepared. A growth mindset will lead to more effort put into the course material. This will lead to better grades as students try to do well in their classes.  

The program could also be used to motivate students in non-STEM fields, as those degree plans are generally frowned upon in modern society. By hammering in a growth mindset from the get-go, participants in these riskier fields will be less tense. These hypothetical students will place a higher priority on their courses, leading to fewer people changing majors. 

Proper exposure to a growth mindset will develop focus and confidence in all kinds of people. The scientists had to develop an intervention, but there is nothing wrong with needing one if it leads to a better performance in school.

A growth mindset is a good thing to develop, for it creates a greater passion for learning and a stronger mind for tough times.

Opinion writer Santiago Gaughan is a construction management freshman and can be reached at [email protected]

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