My parents always told me never to give up. Turns out that a recent research report from AAUW, Why So Few? confirms that parental wisdom. Trying hard on challenging problems and not giving up is key to STEM education because kids can actually become smarter.
The following is excerpted from recommendations from the AAUW research report, Why So Few?
Create a growth-mindset in the classroom by emphasizing that intellectual skills can be improved with effort and that anyone who works hard can succeed.
- Teach children that intellectual skills can be acquired. Teach students that every time they stretch themselves, work hard, and learn something new, their brain forms new connections, and over time they become smarter. Passion, dedication, and self-improvement — not simply innate talent — are the roads to genius and contribution.
- Praise children for their efforts. Praise children for their thought process. It is especially important to give process feedback to the most able students who have often coasted along, gotten good grades, and been praised for their intelligence. These may be the very students who opt out when the work becomes more difficult.
- Highlight the struggle. Portray challenges, effort, and mistakes as highly valued because they are at the heart of STEM contributions. Students with a fixed mindset are threatened by difficult problems, so they may shy away from challenges, limit their effort, and try to avoid or hide mistakes. Let them know that we admire hard work and learning from mistakes.