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SDSU Professor Challenges Concept Widely Embraced By Educators

A classroom at City Heights Prep is shown in this undated photo.
Megan Wood / inewsource
A classroom at City Heights Prep is shown in this undated photo.

SDSU Professor Challenges Concept Widely Embraced By Educators
SDSU Professor Challenges Concept Widely Embraced By Educators GUEST:J. Luke Wood, Ph.D., professor of community college leadership, San Diego State University

Bracing students for their effort not their ability is the core of a teaching strategy called growth mindset and he contends that acknowledging perseverance and improvement fosters resilient students. That strategy is not enough according to Doctor J. Luke Wood that teaches the black minds matter class. He says that underserved community is starving for clear affirmations of their talent and ability. Joining me is Doctor J. Luke Wood, professor of community college leadership, San Diego State University . Welcome to the program.Thank you.The concept of growth mindset has seen as a game changer and how society things about learning. Do you think that it can be helpful for some kind of students?Yes, I think the elements to growth mindset that are beneficial. The idea that you should be validating and praising students for an effort is important. However, my contention is when were talking about students who are from underserved groups, we have to recognize that they don't always receive validation that ever affirms their ability. For us we think it's important that there be a complement validating both effort and their ability. It's part of what we call the 3-D a factor. To stay there viewed in the way we -- communities that are lesser than them and disregard were always assume that they are academically inferior. We believe it's important to validate students and tell them that we believe in you.Tell us about your research that affirms the importance of praising ability.I partner with a colleague and we operate a center called the community college equity assessment lab. Something we do is survey students across the country to examine what are factors that influence her success. One thing that we collect is looking at validation but we look at a specific aspect which is validating ability. What we found is that when you do that and validate students ability, they have greater confidence in their academic abilities, they perceive college to be more worthwhile. They have interest in what they are learning, they are more focused in school. So there are benefits that we see from our research of validating ability. It's not to say that we shouldn't validate effort as well but we believe that you have to have both.The proponent of this concept Carol is white. Do think that ones that are color faced challenges in schools? Peanut I think that is really what the heart of this issue was. This so many theories and education and other fields as well that have been put four by well-intentioned white researchers who want to do the right thing and looking for ways to better help students, but because of their lack of understanding of how certain experiences play out for black boys or other populations their theories aren't applicable. This is a really good example. In her research she assumes the fact that a student has been validated for their ability but were talking about a population where that doesn't always happen. As part of the black minds matter course, we've been looking at other theories that are incomplete. Would want to say they are wrong but they are incomplete and we have to have a more holistic perspective that accounts for their experiences with racism, stereotypes and assumptions that we employ that really make it what would be a great theory is not that applicable.We contacted Carol about your critique of the growth mindset and we got a statement saying I welcome Doctor Woods import and his perspective in fact last week before his article came out I had this discussion with my class and we agreed that for some students especially those laboring under -- under negative stereotypes reassurance of it ability can be important.I really appreciate the thoughtful response and recognize that it is a shift in the prior statements that have been made by the doctor in numerous articles that she's written and in terms of how it's even being perceived by the educational community. I appreciate the fact that she has softened that stanza recognize that there is a need for balance. Again, it is the ship so I think it's important for us to get that message out to the educational community because here's what happened. I go to schools and colleges and universities and I have the privilege of talking with educators and the first thing these days we have to be validating the effort. Again, that is important but if you're dealing with a population who does it receive a complete message, we are in some ways doing harm to populations that have never been told you are really a and you have the ability to do this.I don't want you to leave before you give us an update on the success that you've had with the black minds matter class.We started the class, we hope that there would be a good reception. It is a course that seeks to raise the national consciousness of issues. So what we done is taking a course that I'm teaching here and send it with the University and opened it up to the public and live streaming and across the country. We were hoping there would be maybe 1000 to 2000 people participating. We have over 10,000 people who are registered and counting.I've been speaking with J. Luke Wood, professor of community college leadership, San Diego State University . Thank you so much.Thank you.

The concept of "growth mindset" has been widely embraced by educators, but San Diego State University Professor J. Luke Wood, Ph.D., said the concept is incomplete.

The growth mindset concept encourages educators to praise a student's effort, as opposed to the student's ability. It contends that acknowledging perseverance and improvement fosters hardy and resilient students.


But in the SDSU course, "Black Minds Matter: A Focus on Black Boys and Men in Education," Wood developed and is currently teaching, he argued that the concept is incomplete when it comes to underserved students, particularly boys and men of color.

"I welcome Dr. Wood's input and his deeply informed perspective," Carol Dweck a proponent of the growth mindset concept said in an email to KPBS. "I had this very discussion with my undergraduate class. We agreed that for some students, especially those laboring under negative stereotypes about their ability, reassurance about ability can be important. "I believe in your ability to do this" can be an important message."

Wood joins Midday Edition Monday to discuss why he believes the growth mindset concept is incomplete.