Introducing a Mindset Intervention to Improve Student Success

Nicole A. Buzzetto-Hollywood, Bryant C. Mitchell, Austin J. Hill
Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning  •  Volume 15  •  2019  •  pp. 135-155

The purpose of this paper is to introduce, describe, and document the methods involved in the preparation of a mindset intervention built into a freshmen development course, and established after years of longitudinal research, that is designed to have a positive impact on the outlook, achievement, and persistence of first generation and under-prepared students.

A number of studies conducted in the past fifteen years have concluded that grit, the persistence and perseverance to achieve goals, and growth mindset, the belief that skills and intelligence can be developed, are positive predictors of achievement; however, little focus has been placed on the implications at institutions purposed to educate minorities, first generation college students, and learners from diminished socio-economic backgrounds.

A series of models were created, custom self-assessment scales designed, and a lesson plan prepared purposed to deliver a mindset intervention to edify students about and change perceptions of grit, locus of control/self-efficacy, growth mindset, and goal setting. The mindset intervention, as presented in this paper, was delivered as part of a pilot implementation to students enrolled in a freshmen professional development course at a Mid-Atlantic HBCU in the Fall of 2019.

This qualitative paper documents an ongoing initiative while providing a workable template for the design and delivery of a mindset intervention that is believed will be highly effective with first generation and socio-economically disadvantaged learners. It represents the third paper in a five paper series.

Prior research conducted by the authors shed light on the need to explore non-cognitive factors that may affect student performance such as grit, mindset, engagement, self-efficacy, and goal setting. The authors postulate that a carefully crafted mindset intervention delivered to freshmen students from traditionally underserved populations attending a minority serving institution in the mid-atlantic region of the United States will yield positive outcomes in terms of student success.

As part of a commitment to positive student outcomes, faculty and administrators in higher education must be constantly exploring factors that may, or may not, impact student success.

Research is needed that explores elements that may help to contribute to the success of under prepared college students, in particular those who are from low income, first generation, and minority groups

Since, mindset interventions have been shown to be particularly effective with underserved students, it stands to reason that they should be adopted widely, and be effective at delivering positive outcomes, at HBCUs

The authors have introduced the mindset intervention with freshmen business students enrolled in a required professional development course. Results of the self-assessments and reflection questions are being collected and coded. Additionally, students are being administered a survey designed to measure the perceived efficacy of the initiative.

grit, growth mindset, mindset intervention, self-efficacy, social cognitive theory, learning intervention, student retention, student success, business education, first generation college students, HBCU, minority learners, UMES, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, learning self-efficacy, goal setting, grit in education
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