According to John Hattie, Feedback is one of the most important ways of improving students’ academic performance. How do we give honest feedback in a way that promotes growth?
Gregory Walton talks about “belonging uncertainty” which is “a persistent doubt students can feel about whether ‘people like me’ can belong in a school setting”. This can be a major block to developing or maintaining a Growth Mindset.
One way to work with this underlying anxiety is, according to Katie Finley, to “design classroom activities that involve cooperative - rather than competitive or individualistic - work. Research suggests that students are more motivated and successful when working in groups. Students feel a sense of responsibility to the group to try their best, and thus will experience the positive feedback loop of effort and success, encouraging the development of a growth mindset.”
- Walton, Gregory. “NCEE Blog.” IES, 3 Jan. 2022, http://ies.ed.gov/blogs/ncee/post/is-believing-in-yourself-enough-growth-mindset-and-social-belonging-interventions-for-postsecondary-students
- Finley, Katie. “4 Ways to Encourage a Growth Mindset in the Classroom - EdSurge News.” EdSurge, EdSurge, 27 Dec. 2018, www.edsurge.com/news/2014-10-24-4-ways-to-encourage-a-growth-mindset-in-the-classroom
Video - Designing Supportive Learning Environments (2½ mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRrnFLrwNYU&t=36s
Do past traumatic experiences build resilience and Growth Mindset?
Research by Fernandez et al. suggests that this is not the case. The experience of prior traumatic events makes one more vulnerable to PTSD and/or depression when faced with a new trauma. But learning to develop a Growth Mindset can help to overcome traumatic events.
Instilling a Growth Mindset requires us as teachers to promote an attitude of openness to growth and change in our students. This links with Collective Teacher Efficacy (the belief we share that our students can all do better). So our report comments should avoid being judgements such as “acceptable”, “satisfactory” etc as these suggest that there is no room for growth. Even a positive comment such as “excellent” or “very pleasing” is not that helpful if we are not celebrating why/how that excellence came about. Growth Mindset is all about developing strategies to deal with challenges.
So… a challenge!
Rather than making a judgement, try to think of at least one strategy you can suggest or celebrate.
Here are some possible suggestions for improvement:
- needs to read instructions carefully so that she can answer the questions correctly
- struggled with completing her exam and so needs to work on test-taking techniques and time management
- needs to allocate the exam time better so she can complete all sections well
- needs to check her work more carefully so as to avoid making careless mistakes
- seems to be in a rush to complete work and so does not answer as well as she could with more focus and attention to detail
- answers questions superficially
- needs to check to mark allocation to see the amount of depth required for an answer
- has been working hard but needs to review her study methods so as to gain an in-depth understanding of the topics
- needs to work more consistently by concentrating in class, keeping up with the homework, and preparing in good time for tests and exams
- has been working hard and has made progress but she needs to focus on ... as we move into the second half of the year
- has worked hard and answers exam questions well but disadvantages herself with poor handwriting/untidy layout/inaccurate spelling/poor grammar
All of these can easily be adapted to be celebrations, eg:
- her ability to read instructions carefully and answer the questions correctly is commended