Growth Mindset

GoalIt has now been almost five weeks since this class, Information Fluency and Inquiry Learning (FRIT 7234), has begun. It’s time for me to sit down with my goals that I made at the beginning of the class and evaluate them.

I believe that I am on track for two of my three goals! I have learned about a few new web 2.0 tools, specifically dealing with infographics, that I have saved to my bookmarks on my browser, and plan on incorporating into the classroom. I have also taken what information I have learned so far and brought it into the classroom, as well. For instance, while subbing last week, I helped a middle school student narrow down search results on Google and suggest tips for getting better results. This is something that I would not have been able to do had it not been before this class. Therefore, I would say that I am progressing nicely through my goals for the class.

While reading Even Geniuses Work Hard, by Carol S. Dweck, I noticed the two growth online_resourcesmindsets that she listed within her article: fixed and growth. Once I was finished with the article, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to place myself within a mindset – where exactly did I belong? How did I view knowledge? And, more importantly, how did I view myself within the knowledge spectrum?

After a considerable amount of time had passed, I believed that I had the answer. I think that I belong within the growth mindset. I believe that everyone can develop intelligence, I value effort, I respond well to obstacles, and I view challenging work as an opportunity to grow.

Ms. Dweck also made sure to point out in her article that a fixed mindset was not a very positive way to think. Those with a fixed mindset believe that you are born intelligent, they value looking smart “over everything else,” they do not like effort, and they do not handle setbacks well. This is obviously not conducive to a positive classroom environment. Ms. Dweck points this out within her article, as well as offers a suggestion:

… teachers need to create a growth-mindset culture  in the classroom. One way to create such a culture is by providing the right kinds of praise and encouragement.

I believe that this is something that all teachers should strive for. There are some students who definitely are too hard on themselves, and definitely are stuck in the fixed mindset. However, that’s not saying that they’ll be viewing education and intelligence the same way forever. Teachers can change the way that students view intelligence, education, and their own personal worth by offering the right kinds of feedback, just as Ms. Dweck suggests in her article.

Growth Mindset

Reflective Searching

man-searching1How does someone find the answers to questions they might have? The answer is, unsurprisingly, to Google it. This should come without a shock. Before Google, AltaVista and Ask Jeeves reigned supreme. The answer for many has always been to turn to a search engine, type in a question, and pick one of the very first links.

Unfortunately, searching is skill to be honed, and one that students usually do not have. As noted in the Pro Tips for Searching Google Effectively in 2013 Infographic, “three out of four students couldn’t perform a ‘well-executed search’ on Google.” The article How Google Impacts the Way Students Think provides some answers to this. The author, Terry Heick, states that “Google creates the illusion of accessibility,” “Google naturally suggests ‘answers’ as stopping points,” and “Google obscures the interdependence of information.” Mr. Heick points out that Google “creates the illusion that answers are always within reach even when they’re not,” and that “if users can Google answers to questions they’re given, they’re likely terrible questions.” Mr. Heick also points out that users can “Google Abuse” at any time, being uncertain how to apply and synthesize the information they’ve found. In addition, the article How Teens Do Research in the Digital World states that teachers have a variety of concerns when it comes to students’ overdependence on search engines, including judgment of quality, literacy level, increasing distractions, poor time management, diminished critical thinking capacity, and plagiarism.

google_lupaThe article How Teens Do Research in the Digital World also states that teachers say that “a top priority in today’s classroom should be teaching students how to ‘judge the quality of online information.'” So, how do we make this a priority? The article True — Or Not? by Debbie Abilock shows the reader some rules of thumb for how they can begin doing some better online searching, including verifying the author(s), looking for bias, and verifying content. By doing these things, we can all become better searchers.

However, how would a school-wide approach to reflective searching come about? A school who uses inquiry-based learning methods. Using an inquiry-based learning model, students are taught to find the evidence and answer “how do I know this information?” Students in inquiry-based learning schools aren’t able to just answer questions, they have to provide answers with enough evidence to support their answers, in addition to finding factually accurate information.

As schools move more and more toward BYOT (bring your own technology) models and using web 2.0 tools, it is important that students understand exactly how to perform Internet searches, no matter what search engine they’re using – Google or otherwise.

Reflective Searching