What does this mean in the classroom?

Our students are diverse in social identities (e.g., race and religion) and academic preparation.  They come to campus with prior learning experiences and a range of academic readiness.

Assessment of prior learning is crucial.  Don't assume your students have mastered all prerequisite knowledge and skills.  At the beginning of the semester or when introducing a new concept, survey them to better understand how you can best support their learning.1

  • Encourage students to understand that intelligence and competence grow from learning, effort, and practice.  Coach students to frame stressful and difficult situations as opportunities for learning (i.e., a mastery mindset).   
  • Emphasize an incremental view of intelligence, as opposed to a fixed, inherited view of intelligence.  The incremental view suggests that intelligence can improve through hard work, rather than an inherent biological trait.  Periodically remind students of this throughout the semester, like when reminding them to study for exams or to complete large projects.
  • Help students set goals.  Keep reminding them of long term success to sustain their motivation. 
  • Create direct links between relevance in their lives and the work they're going to do in classes. 
  • Make explicit links between assignments and directions. 
  • Be transparent with your students.  For example, explain what office hours are and how to make use of them.
  • Structure activities on the first day of class that welcome your students and create a sense of belonging in the course.

1Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House.