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Developing a Growth Mindset

Partnering with the Franklin Institute, UCF teachers study the latest science on how the brain works - creating brain-based learning instruction for students.

In this unique partnership with the Franklin Institute, many teachers throughout the district have learned brain based instruction techniques. Our partners at the Franklin Institute have shared with us the latest research on brain function and how students learn. They have learned how the growth mindset is embedded in our physiology and how our brains have much more plasticity than once thought.

UCF teachers then have have opportunities to share best practices and to integrate this new learning into their teaching practices to benefit students now and to instill in them a life long “Growth Mindset”.

Our students are not numbers and their test scores do not define them. Research and experience is showing us that when students believe that hard work and perseverance leads to greater knowledge and skill development these students achieve at a higher level. This is core to our mission and comprises the essence of what is now termed a “Growth Mindset”.

“This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies and help from others (Dweck, 2016). “ Dr. Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University, goes on to say, “no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment (Dweck, 2016).”

At UCF, we want our students to have the confidence to tackle the difficult challenges that will come their way in the classroom and in their careers. Fostering and supporting a growth mindset in our students is critical for our students to succeed in life and contribute to society. 

We want students to understand that getting the wrong answer is not the end of the problem, but just the beginning. From this mistake, a student can try other strategies, do additional research and/or redesign his/her plan. Engaging in meaningful learning is not a once and done experience, but more like working on a complex puzzle, looking for clues and connections and engaging in a trial and error process.

We want to avoid teaching students that when something is hard they should just come to an adult to get the answer. There may be times when this is appropriate, but we also need to guide them to try other strategies and to develop additional tools and knowledge to help achieve their learning goals.

Neuroscience has taught us that when students struggle and work to solve a problem, they engage more areas of their brain, and this can facilitate knowledge and skills being stored in long-term memory. It is not only that students need to believe in themselves and put in the effort to achieve; this effort will also greatly benefit their learning based on the physiology of how learning occurs.

In school and in life a growth mindset can lead to each student reaching his or her potential. The following quote from legendary coach John Wooden reminds us of the importance of hard work and effort: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing that you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming, (Wooden)” .

Our district’s mission is to “Unlock the Potential in All of Us” and we see developing and supporting a growth mindset in our students as fundamental to this mission.