Invisible Forces: Portraits of Instructional Approaches to Mindset Development in Secondary and Postsecondary Writing Classes
CitationLiu, Pei Pei. 2019. Invisible Forces: Portraits of Instructional Approaches to Mindset Development in Secondary and Postsecondary Writing Classes. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Graduate School of Education.
AbstractSynthesizing a broad swath of motivational and psychosocial literature, the Consortium on Chicago School Research identifies four “academic mindsets” ("I belong in this academic community"; "My ability and competence grow with my effort"; "I can succeed at this"; and "This work has value for me") that predict positive academic and social outcomes for students. These mindsets and their analogous constructs increasingly appear in college readiness and success frameworks as critical factors for college attainment, academic performance, persistence, and completion. Yet student mindsets are particularly vulnerable at school transitions, and despite frequent calls for the expansive field of motivational research to be “translated” into practice, an understanding of how to foster and maintain students’ positive mindsets across the college transition remains surprisingly elusive. Specifically, inadequate attention has been paid to how secondary and postsecondary educators understand student mindsets and seek to influence them through intentional instructional design and pedagogical practices.
To address this gap in the literature, I conducted a multi-case portraiture study of 12th-grade English teachers and instructors of first-year college writing (N=4). Through interviews, classroom observations, and document analysis, I explored these educators’ understandings of academic mindsets and their pedagogical enactment of those understandings. I find that the educators’ understandings and enactments of positive mindset development often converged with extant theory but were complex and sometimes contradictory, manifesting in pedagogical tensions and tradeoffs. I identify two main instructional growth edges for supporting student mindset development in secondary and postsecondary classrooms: greater transparency about instructional intent and more comprehensive metacognitive scaffolding to assist students with motivational meaning-making. Additionally, I discuss the emergence of parallel mindset processes in the focal classrooms: the educators’ approaches to promoting student mindsets often illuminated characteristics of their own mindsets toward teaching, particularly their growth and efficacy mindsets. I therefore conclude with recommendations for how institutional actors and researchers can support educators’ teaching mindsets and mastery of motivating instructional strategies, paralleling the supports we want educators to provide to students across the critical college transition.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42081668