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Manipulating mindset to positively influence introductory \ud programming performance

By Q. Cutts, E. Cutts, S. Draper, P. O'Donnell and P. Saffrey

Abstract

Introductory programming classes are renowned for their high dropout rates. The authors propose that this is because students \ud learn to adopt a fixed mindset towards programming. This paper \ud reports on a study carried out with an introductory programming \ud class, based on Dweck’s mindset research. Combinations of three \ud interventions were carried out: tutors taught mindset to students; \ud growth mindset feedback messages were given to students on \ud their work; and, when stuck, students were encouraged to use a \ud crib sheet with pathways to solve problems. The study found that \ud the mixture of teaching mindset and giving mindset messages on \ud returned work resulted in a significant change in mindset and a \ud corresponding significant change in test scores – improvements in \ud test scores were found in a class test given immediately after the \ud six-week intervention and at the end-of-year exam. The authors \ud discuss the results and the strengths and weaknesses of the study. learner's mindset towards ability levels has a crucial effect on their \ud learning [5]. She identifies two categories of learners, one \ud consisting of those with a fixed mindset (the students described \ud above) and the other, those with a growth mindset, who act as if \ud persistent effort and attention to data gleaned from failures will \ud lead to the desired learning. \ud Dweck’s work on mindsets highlights a number of ramifications \ud for learning. Each mindset is supported by a motivational \ud framework guiding future thinking and behaviour [3]. Those with \ud a fixed mindset tend to be interested only in performance goals – \ud they feel a need to be seen to be achieving well at all times, since \ud this broadcasts their ability to the world. Those with a growth \ud mindset adopt learning goals. They are classical deep learners \ud who sacrifice looking good in the eyes of others in order to lear

Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.gla.ac.uk:45858
Provided by: Enlighten
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