SAGE Musings: Metacognition and Mindset

Carol Ormand, SERC, Carleton College
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published Jul 11, 2016

Summer is here, and that makes me think of summer reading. I know some of you are looking forward to reading Saundra McGuire's book on metacognition (Teach Students How to Learn). I also recommend Mindset: the New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck, which Saundra mentioned in one of her presentations. I see from the (completely anonymized) workshop evaluations that many of you are planning to use metacognitive strategies with your students in the fall. I can't wait to hear about how that goes!

One of the most powerful things about teaching our students metacognitive strategies is that it encourages them -- almost forces them, really -- to take responsibility for their own learning. Teaching them about mindset has the same effect. As Carol Dweck learned from her research, people either have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset when it comes to learning. People with a fixed mindset think that their abilities are "fixed," essentially determined at birth and therefore beyond their control. People with a growth mindset understand that their skills -- ALL of their skills -- improve with practice. This is a bit of a simplification, of course; you can have a fixed mindset about learning some things and a growth mindset about others.... You've probably had students who know that they have to work to get better at sports, but think that their mathematical abilities are somehow genetically pre-determined. It can be incredibly empowering for them to learn about Dweck's research, and about the underlying research on learning, showing that the neural networks in our brains are stimulated to grow as we work to learn new things.

I'm going to take a break from the SAGE Musings emails for late July and part of August -- I'll resume August 22nd with a message about time/task management. Spoiler alert: one of my strategies is taking breaks. :)

Happy summer, and keep in touch.

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