Eight College of Natural Sciences faculty at the University of Texas at Austin collaborated with social psychologists and education specialists to better understand the role of growth mindset, belonging, and purpose on learning. As part of a Texas Mindset Initiative Fellowship, the faculty developed psychologically-attuned teaching practices, implemented the practices with 2,200 students enrolled in their undergraduate courses, and measured the impact on student mindset using a standardized survey.
Short interventions related to mindset can positively impact student success when the students’ actual experiences align with the mindset intervention vignette. However, these interventions intentionally bypass the instructor to avoid an additional variable, and the classroom environment does not always support the intervention. This group aims to connect experienced STEM educators with mindset researchers to determine how to make sure students’ lived experiences in STEM support them in developing a growth mindset, a sense of belonging, and a focus on purpose.
From May 2020 through November 2020 TxMI faculty fellows, social psychologists, and education specialists collaborated in six phases outlined below:
Measurement of Impact
The TxMI Fellows administered the PERTS Copilot Ascend survey several times per semester to track six mindset metrics: trust and fairness, institutional growth mindset, self-efficacy, identify safety, social belonging, and social connectedness. The data were analyzed to allow comparisons based on demographics, such as sex, race, and financial status.
Among the Fellows’ students, trends are beginning to emerge from the data. For example:
- Ninety percent of students started the semester with an institutional growth mindset and said faculty are trustworthy. Later in the semester, even more students (95%) reported the same.
- More students reported that their social identity is valued as the semester progressed. (61% to 72% on average from the beginning to the middle of the semester)
- Students who identify with marginalized groups reported positive experiences less often. In some cases, the gaps between groups were reduced. For example, in four of the Fellows’ classes, students with financial stress reported higher gains in self-efficacy than the average.