Ever wonder what Deeper Learning means? The Hewlett Foundation has worked with a variety of researchers to develop a framework of five elements:
–  master core academic content through
–  critical thinking and complex problem solving
–  working collaboratively
–  communicating effectively
–  learning how to learn
You probably heard a lot about each of these.  Here’s what’s new: recently the Foundation has added a 6th element to this –  develop academic mindsets.
What does that mean and why did they add it?  An April 2013 article by Camille A. Farrington explains that “[a]cademic mindsets are …both motivators for and outcomes of engagement in deeper learning experiences.”  You need academic mindset to be successful in deeper learning and conversely deeper learning experiences help students develop academic mindsets.  Based on a wide-body of research, Farrington introduces four academic mindsets:
4Mindsets1) My ability and competence grow with my effort.  In two words: Growth mindset. The belief that by putting in work, we can get better at something is critical to having the motivation to put in the work.
2) I can succeed at this.  Why put in effort if you don’t think there’s a good chance of ultimate success?  Belief in self-efficacy is a critical motivator for students.
3) I belong in this academic community. Students need to feel they are part of the community to do their best learning.  Belonging is not only a foundational human need, but also an academic one.  As Farrington states, “Belonging is particularly important in an educational context because human learning is socially constructed: we come to understand the world through our interaction with others.”
4) This work has value for me.  Purpose!  Students need to be able to believe what they are doing has value.  It’s much harder for anyone to put in their best effort and energy when a task feels like busy work.
So in summary these mindsets matter.  They help students engage in the complex work of deeper learning and are developed by that same learning.  What’s more they are highly correlated with adult success.  The great news about this news is that each of these minds is 1) malleable and 2) influenced by students’ school experience.
Farrington contends that “educators play a key role in building positive mindsets. Students’ academic identities and attitudes and beliefs about schooling are strongly influenced by the school and classroom environment in which learning is situated; the structure of academic work, goals, support, and feedback in that environment; and the implicit and explicit messages conveyed to students about themselves in relation to that academic work.”
It may sound cheesy, but after reading this article I was re-inspired about my ability as an educator to make a difference!  So let’s get out there develop some rocking (it is a rock-tober after all) academic mindsets!  Have a great week 🙂