Dare to Flourish - Growth Mindset

Dare to Flourish - Growth Mindset

14 December 2022

In light of the move towards developing a growth-mindset and learning for life, our work focuses on facilitating meaningful peer feedback as well as self-assessment by encouraging students’ appropriate efforts. Our project seeks to promote Diverse Assessments for Raising Efficacy (DARE) to help students flourish in their learning, leveraging Growth Mindset principles, and nurturing self-efficacy and self-regulated learning through Peer-Assessment and Self-Assessment (PASA). This will enable students to thrive, and be joyful and effective in both learning and life.  All these point to the larger aims of education such as social reconstructionism and self-actualisation in preparing students to learn for life.

Project Methodology

In 2022, after joint research and discussions, we conducted various PASA learning activities to address the diverse student profiles in our individual classrooms with our respective students and colleagues. We leveraged the positive teacher language and pedagogy of Growth Mindset, Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) Taxonomy, the use of questions as well as strategies of assessment for learning (AfL) such as peer feedback and metacognition via self-evaluation. The  five of us from diverse schools and levels ranging from primary to junior college then sought to demonstrate how Growth Mindset was exercised in PASA in Art, History, Physical Education, Project Work and Science.

Theoretical underpinnings and pedagogical approaches

Growth Mindset, famously popularised by Carol Dweck, includes the principles that intelligence and talents are not fixed and can be developed, and appropriate (not blind) effort is the path to mastery, and the process of mastery needs to be the focus rather than merely the outcome.  It also highlights that setbacks, mistakes and failures are temporary and to be embraced as an essential part of learning and growth, together with challenges which are seen to offer opportunities for reflection and new strategies.

Crucially, Dylan’s (2011) five strategies of AfL bring to light PASA where peer feedback and self-evaluation are perceived to be essential catalysts in enabling a growth mindset.

Dylan Wiliam’s (2011) Five Strategies of Assessment for Learning (AfL)

In feedback, peer-assessment and self-assessment are widely recognised to be important components of formative assessment. In these two practices, students reflect on the work of their peers or of themselves against the success criteria related to the learning goals and provide constructive feedback for their peers to make improvements accordingly. These student-centric feedback modes are vital in promoting self-regulated learning and student assessment literacy through raising student awareness of their own progress and fostering ownership of their own work. In group activities, PASA also gives students the opportunity to take an active role in tracking and improving the ongoing performance of their peers and themselves. This fosters accountability and responsibility, and further encourages students to be cooperative and productive members of their respective teams.

Impact on student learning and outcomes

The application of Growth Mindset theory in peer and self-assessment can also positively impact the attitude that students carry in facing the stresses of learning and life in general. When they encounter setbacks or challenges, they will be equipped to reflect, learn, and improve. Conversely, such a practice helps them learn from their successes and teaches them not to be complacent or afraid to strive higher. Through positive social modelling among their peers and the attainment of mastery experiences, students will experience positive emotions that can neurobiologically promote learning, and greater motivation and efficacy in their learning and work. They become more future-ready and are better equipped to deal with the challenges of the real world.

Individual reflections

Edwin Lim

I have found Growth Mindset in PASA to be useful in tracking student progress in ‘A’ level Project Work. One application lies in our ‘Ideas Development Assignment’ (IDA). After students have completed the IDA, they are invited to respond to two prompts, which use the language of growth mindset, to self-assess their own work. The prompts are:

  • Consider what you might have done well in your IDA: What specifically did you do to achieve these successes/positives in your work? What strengths (character strengths or other strengths) did you exercise to achieve these? How can you apply what you’ve learnt about your successes/strengths to help you in your WR (eg. research, writing, teamwork, time-management etc)?
  • Consider what you might not have done well in your IDA yet: What can you learn? What specific steps can you take to improve? How can you apply your strengths to help you improve your IDA?

Students’ written self-feedback in response to the prompts indicated that they recognised that effort was an important part of learning, and mistakes/setbacks are but learning opportunities to become better and not to be discouraged by them. They also saw how a growth mindset can help them in other areas of work (beyond this existing task) and how to strategically use their strengths to overcome their weaknesses. Colleagues participating in this exercise also highlighted that these reflections provided valuable insights to students’ efforts behind the scenes (beyond the outcome of their work produced) and the soft skills they exercised.

Lee Mun Yee

One of the aims of Art for lower secondary students is an instrumental one to cultivate students’ growth mindset. Supporting students to develop competency in a subject that they have found ‘elusive’ has the potential to change their mindset about self-efficacy. To apply the theory of Growth Mindset, my Art colleagues and I work to empower students by developing competency and intrinsic motivation supported by Peer- and Self-assessment (PASA). We also ensured that peer-assessment was given rigorous follow-up for effectiveness. Students were given descriptive rubrics on levels of quality in animation sequences that show the concept of gravity. The scaffolding activity was for  students to create a trial sequence in pairs. Each pair’s work was rated by another pair referencing the rubrics. We observed substantial inflated peer-scoring, and identified possible factors below:

  • Biased assessment because of friendships
  • Lack of familiarity / clarity with parts of the descriptive rubrics
  • Incomplete technical understanding of the change in pacing to show gravity

    After the peer assessment, students were to begin the final animation production, while the teacher went through the rated trial sequences with each pair of students. The feedback focused on analysing the quality difference between the peers’ rating and the correct rating It is observed that students were receptive to the feedback and the reasons are:
  • They have increased clarity on the levels of quality,
  • They understood how the gaps may be augmented for improvement, thus the feedback is actionable
  • They recognised that the next level is attainable, and they were able to self-monitor.

Anthony Tan

Through the use of Growth Mindset principles, I helped students realise the fun of learning Science in the classroom. Assessment in their daily lesson were viewed as a challenge to improve themselves and their peers around them. The 3 simple principles that the students learnt are:

1. Everyone can LEARN (there is no emphasis on talent)

2. MISTAKES are valuable (view failure as a process of growth)

3. QUESTIONS are important (take critique in your stride to improve oneself)

From the project, I realised that time is necessary for my students to change from a fixed to a growth mindset and the language I use must be aligned to the principles of Growth Mindset. It’s the emphasis on EFFORT during my lesson that I worked on deliberately that paid off as I constantly asked questions to push students to reflect on the amount of effort they have put in to understand what they are doing. Where opportunities arose, I would use platforms such as Google Form and Padlet to enhance the  process of GROW (area for growth) and GLOW (strength). With this approach, I pushed for students to own their own learning and advocated self-directed learning. I hope to enhance my project by looking into SOLO Taxonomy (Rubrics) in Peer Assessment and Self Assessment (PASA). I appreciate the potential of the SOLO taxonomy to map out the learning domains and levels which can prompt students to look for possibilities to feed forward their learning.

Doreen Lim

I applied Dweck’s Growth Mindset on the power of “yet”, the philosophy and principles of Differentiated Instruction (DI), Biggs’ and Collis’ SOLO Taxonomy, and Hoo’s envisioning language  principles to my lesson design. I used tiering of skills to show progression and track growth in the historical analysis of a source’s purpose. I also designed criterion-reference rubrics that consisted of standard descriptors with positive language of possibilities and growth such as “I can” as well as non-threatening animated gifs. By aligning assessment standards to the Singapore Teaching Practice (STP)’s Positive Classroom Culture, students draw on their internal strengths by reframing any deficit to “I can”, which is an important skill for cognitive flexibility that contributes to resilience and well-being.

Some of the findings reveal a growth-mindset in students where they acted on their peers’ feedback by editing their work.  There was a teachable moment for my growth too when my students gave me feedback on my exemplar and I modelled how we can learn together by acting on their feedback to co-create a quality exemplar.

My key conclusions are the importance of the following:

★ Positive Language in Self-Assessment:

○ The need to use of Envisioning Language and Positive Teacher Language in assessment standards descriptors of criterion-referenced rubrics design to invite students to see possibilities and draw out their strengths progressively for growth.

★ Purposeful Peer-Assessment:

○ The need for clear communication of learning goals and success criteria for meaningful task- and process-level feedback for attainable follow-up actions.

Moving forward, I will be scaling it up to larger classes to continue to grow a positive learning culture.

Helen Low

The aim of the project is to develop a Growth Mindset through Self-Assessment in PE (Active Living & Healthy Eating) & Self-Reflection in CCA (Volleyball). The focus is on personal accountability and taking ownership of students’ growth and learning in PE & CCA.

The Self-Assessment Questions for Growth in PE are:

1. What is My Goal in PE - Active Living & Healthy Eating?

2. What is one thing I Can Do to get started?

3. Who Can I Ask/Approach if I need help?

4. What are the available resources that I Can Use/Tap to help achieve My Goal?

5. Where am I now in My Effort to Walk 8000 steps/2 km & Eat fruits/vegetables daily?

The Self-Reflection PR²O Journal for Growth Mindset in CCA focused on the following traits:

P – Pride; R – Reflective; R – Resilient; O – Ownership

The deliberate attempt to emphasize Goal-Setting, Effort, Improvement and Reflective Questioning played a key role in this project, as the ability to learn is not fixed, and it can change over time, with effort.

From this project, I realised that Peer-Assessment is missing in the process of developing the Growth Mindset of my students, and they are generally still lacking in team dynamics and Grit. Moving forward, I hope to include Peer-Assessment as part of peer-learning to give ample opportunity to learn together as a team, and to provide a safe place for growing self efficacy and fuelling Grit. If possible, I would like to collaborate with Republic Polytechnic (RP) on their research, “The Enhanced GRIT Scale” (Consistency of Interests, Perseverance of Effort, Resiliency and Growth Mindset) as the research team is looking at designing interventions to develop GRIT in youths.

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