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Keywords

learning community, mindset about intelligence, effort, achievement

Abstract

College students’ implicit theories (or mindsets) about intelligence can affect not only their motivations toward learning, but also their cognitive habits and behaviors while learning thus impacting academic achievement. In this paper we describe learning experiences we used with our learning community to 1) introduce students to the concept of implicit theories (mindsets) about intelligence, 2) encourage them to move toward growth mindsets rather than fixed mindsets about their abilities to learn, 3) challenge them to identify learning as more than memorization and recall, and 4) hold them accountable for doing the work of the mind (meaningful and mindful effort) required for learning. Questionnaires given at the beginning and again at the end of the semester revealed increases in students’ self-reported knowledge of mindset about intelligence and the effect it has on their abilities to learn, about the impact meaningful and mindful effort has on learning, and about the meaning of effort. More important, students also reported positive changes in behaviors as they took more responsibility for their own growth and development by practicing the work of the mind. Leaders of learning communities can use this set of learning experiences to help their students achieve even more academic success.

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