Complex problems are never solved by simple solutions. Improving learning and exam grades whilst at school are arguably two of the most complex problems, with many interacting factors combining to impact on how well students do. So how can we best help students thrive?
Growth Mindset is one of the most popular psychological theories in education. A range of studies from around the world have found that growth mindset is linked to better grades. But psychological development is not done in isolation – a strategy aimed at improving one thing also improves another. For example helping students improve self-talk also helps improve their mindset, resilience, creativity and concentration. Clearly, lots of psychological elements cross over and interact.
So, what skills do we want students to grow with their growth mindset? What can growth mindset combine with in order to improve performance?
Growth Mindset and…Motivation
In this study, alongside developing their mindset, researchers asked students to write down how doing well at school would enable them to achieve their goals and contribute to wider society. They found this improved student motivation and increased the chances of them completing Maths, English and Science courses.
Growth Mindset and… Autonomy
Autonomy is having a sense of choice and control over what one does. Too little can be suffocating. Too much can lack focus. In a recent study of over 2000 students, researchers found that teaching students about how to develop a growth mindset and letting them choose how they should be rewarded for attendance (and therefore increasing their autonomy) led to an improvement in persistence and school grades.
Growth Mindset and… Memory
Growth Mindset is simply the belief that people can get better. Teaching them approaches to revise effectively gives them a tangible strategy on how to do so. Recent reviews have found that re-reading and highlighting key phrases are particularly weak techniques, with other research confirming strategies such as spacing out your learning and retrieval practice (i.e. having to generate an answer) are likely to lead to better learning, memory and grades. For more information about memory techniques, check out our blog, ’15 Ways to Maximise Memory’.
Believing you can improve and develop skills is a firm foundation for future learning. Combining this attitude with the motivation to get better, a sense of choice and tangible strategies to improve student memory can give students a better chance of thriving both at school and in their exams.
For information about developing a growth mindset in your school take a look at our handy guide!