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U503B·S1A: Workshop - Growth & Grit: Encouraging a growth mindset and grit for first year students
Technical FYEE Conference - Paper Submission
Sun. July 28, 2019 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM
Session Description

Facilitator: Stephanie Leigh Cutler ( and Sarah Zappe, The Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education, Penn State

As students begin their journey in higher education, they can face new challenges and opportunities that will impact their success. How students react to those challenges can be influenced by their mindset (fixed or growth) and grit. As defined by the psychology literature, mindset refers to an individual’s beliefs about the flexibility of human characteristics (Yeager & Dweck, 2012). For individuals with a growth mindset, they believe characteristics (like intelligence) can be enhanced through practice and effort. In contrast, individuals with a fixed mindset believe that one’s characteristics are innate and unchangeable. Grit is defined in the literature “as perseverance and passion for long-term goals” (Duckworth, et al. 2007). Grit can be conceptualized as the confluence of three components “(a) having interest or passion in a given area; (b) preferring long-term, rather than short-term, goals; and (c) overcoming obstacles or setbacks.” (Almeida, 2016). Students with a growth mindset and grit are more likely to overcome obstacles and failures in their academic careers (Aguilar, et al., 2014).
In the classroom, unintentional messages can be communicated to students that promote a fixed mindset making it less likely that students will take on new challenges in their academic journey. Given that students likely experience their first engineering class during their freshman year, first-year instructors should be cognizant about unintended messages that they may implicitly communicate through their teaching and interactions with students. The goal of this workshop is to help first-year engineering instructors to become aware of mindset and grit to see how their teaching strategies can promote perspectives that encourage the continuous success of their students.

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