Fighting Students’ Apathy with a Growth Mindset Approach

Have you had students who just didn’t seem to care about class? They may have shown up physically, but they were somewhere else mentally. They barely participated in class discussions, and their writing lacked the effort you tried so hard to encourage them to put forth. How do you combat this apathy?

According to Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, bringing a growth-mindset approach, rather than that of a fixed mindset, to your classroom helps reduce apathy in your students.

Growth vs. fixed mindsets

People with a fixed mindset think their traits are static. They “have a certain amount of brains and talent and nothing can change that…[P]eople in this mindset worry about their traits and how adequate they are. They have something to prove to themselves and others” (Dweck). So, students who have fixed mindsets believe they cannot get more intelligent than they already are. If they’ve been a bad student with low grades before, then they assume they’ll continue performing poorly in academic settings because that is how they are. Likewise, if they succeed in school, that success confirms their inherent intelligence and creativity. They strive for success and try to avoid failure at all costs.

People with a growth mindset, however, believe they can learn and practice diligently in order to improve at the task at hand. This type of mindset “thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities” (Popova). Students are less preoccupied with failing and looking unintelligent and more focused on actively learning so they can become stronger in their character, creativity, and intelligence.

Changing the meaning of failure

Implementing a growth-mindset approach in class helps students understand that failure isn’t a terrible mistake that shines a light on their inadequacies. Instead, failure leads to opportunities to learn and get creative.

Risks often scare students with fixed mindsets because risks contain a chance of failing. Encouraging students to break outside of their comfort zones to take academic risks (within reason, of course!) gets them to try their hand at something different and put extra effort into their lessons.

Putting forth effort is nearly half the battle. When they apply their effort to learning something new and challenging themselves, students truly gain insight from the lesson instead of simply gaining a grade.

How Hawkes promotes growth

Hawkes gives students a penalty-free environment for learning. In the Practice mode, students can practice as much as they want to. Certify, the homework mode in the courseware, holds students accountable for learning the material on their own time. They can keep trying Certify as often as they need. If they don’t pass the first time, they don’t get a bad grade. Instead, they get the chance to try again—to get back on the proverbial horse and push themselves to keep learning and understanding the lesson. If they don’t pass Certify, students receive a customized Practice session with the question types they missed. By applying a growth mindset, students can learn from these Practice sessions, get more comfortable with the material and confident in their learning, then take on Certify again. When they pass Certify, they receive 100% full credit for the lesson, another reward for believing they can do it and applying themselves to the goal of truly learning the content.

Before taking an assigned test, students can create their own practice tests. Only they can see these practice tests. Not even instructors have access to this space, so students don’t feel judged by others. Instead of worrying about their performance on this practice assessment, students can ease into the material and allow themselves to explore what they know and what they still need to learn. Students have the option of setting a time limit, and they can also choose to not put a limit on how long they need to complete the questions.

By rewarding students for taking the time to learn the material through unlimited practice questions and customized practice tests, Hawkes’s system encourages students that they can learn and succeed when applying a growth mindset to their lessons.



Works Cited

Dweck, Carol. Mindset. Mindset Online, 2010, Accessed 25 April 2017.

Popova, Maria. “Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets that Shape Our Lives.” Brain Pickings, 29 Jan. 2014. Accessed 25 April 2017.

Five of the best accessibility resources for content creators

Our Accessibility Team at Hawkes Learning has gathered several of their favorite resources for learning about and testing a website’s accessibility. As we work toward becoming WCAG 2.0 Level AA compliant, we’ve learned from some of the best sources within the accessibility community. Below are five that our team recommends using if you’re a developer or content creator interested in learning more!

1. U.S. Web Design Standards

This visual style guide and library of open-source UI components serves as a model for creating beautiful and easy-to-use accessible websites.

2. tota11y

This very approachable accessibility evaluation tool uses color overlays and helpful violation explanations, allowing web developers to quickly visualize and address issues without extensive prior knowledge of web accessibility.

3. a11y Toolbar

This toolbar for websites allows users to choose high-contrast and/or grayscale views as well as adjust the text size. It is based on ally.js.

4. Accessibility Checker

This testing tool for web content created in CKEditor quickly identifies accessibility issues and automatically fixes common problems, allowing content creators who are not trained in accessible web development to create accessible content from the ground up.

5. AInspector Sidebar

This web accessibility testing tool for Firefox clearly identifies violations of WCAG 2.0 and ARIA standards. The user-friendly interface provides detailed summaries of test results along with links to techniques for correcting violations.

Make a POUR website. (It’s a good thing.)

To make your website more accessible, make sure it’s POUR. POUR is a handy acronym for:

P: Perceivable

O: Operable

U: Understandable

R: Robust

These are the testing pillars for content providers. What do we mean by that? Let’s look into each word.


Users must be able to perceive your content, and they do this through sight, hearing, and touch. If your content can’t be processed by the user, then it isn’t accessible. So, how do you ensure your information is perceivable?

First off, remember to not let any background sounds or visual elements get in the way of your content. Limit the amount of distractions on the site. If there is too much going on with any given page, users’ brains might get overwhelmed and become unable to process the information.

Two important components to keep in mind are color contrast and alternative text. The High Contract Chrome App can be installed on a user’s computer to invert colors and convert the display to grayscale. Test your website to make sure that when you change these color schemes, users can still access the important information on your site.

Additionally, images should have alternative text so that if users cannot see, they can use assistive devices called screen readers to read aloud descriptions of the images. ChromeVox for Chrome and Mac OS VoiceOver are two great tools to check out for that kind of testing.


Users must be able to navigate your website. Since not all users can control a computer mouse to navigate a website, keyboard accessibility is important. Check to make sure you can move around the screen using the Tab key, space bar, arrow keys, and the Enter key. A focus indicator, such as a box that highlights each tab or other element of the website, should be visible so users who can see are aware of where they are on the page. A screen reader should also be able to read aloud these elements for navigation.


Users need to understand the meaning of your content. Sometimes, users need more than words or images to grasp your meaning; they might need both, as well as videos and other representations of your content.

Users also need easy navigation that’s consistent and predictable throughout the site. Context should not change unexpectedly; otherwise, things will get confusing, and quickly. Buttons and links shouldn’t have ambiguous labels like “Click here.” Try to provide as much context as possible so users understand what action they’re performing each time they select a button or choose a tab.


Different users are going to access your website in different ways. There are several technologies, browsers, and devices out there, so your content needs to be compatible with as many of them as possible.

Be aware of HTML and Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) specification, and test out your site using different browsers and devices. Know which technologies are at work in the resource you’re testing. Become familiar with the standards that are used when creating content. This testing will help ensure you’re using well-structured code so that many users can access your content.

For more information, visit WebAIM’s website, a terrific resource for learning how to build a POUR website:

Web accessibility: Who is affected?

If you’re short on time, here’s the answer: everyone. Yes, web accessibility affects anyone who goes online. If a website is Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Level AA compliant, then the website’s usability should also be high-quality. However, people who are affected the most by poor web accessibility are those with disabilities. Below is a quick look at four common disabilities.

An ear with a line going through it.


Auditory disabilities include varying degrees of hearing loss, ranging from mild to profound. People with mild or moderate hearing loss are commonly described as hard‑of‑hearing, while those with severe or profound hearing loss are described as deaf.

Accessible websites must supplement all audio content with text. Captions and transcripts should be provided for any videos that contain audio, and transcripts are needed for any audio‑only content.

Three cogs


Someone with a cognitive disability may have deficits in memory, attention, problem solving, verbal comprehension, or visual comprehension.

Well-designed websites should be easy to navigate and understand; these qualities benefit all users and significantly improve accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities.

An eye with a line going through it.


Two categories of visual disabilities are low vision and blindness. Many people with these disabilities use assistive technologies such as screen readers or refreshable Braille devices. Users of these assistive technologies generally do not use a mouse, so keyboard access to web content is essential.

The final category of visual disability that should be considered when designing web content is color blindness. Users with color blindness may view websites in black and white or use customized color schemes that override the native colors of a website.

A computer cursor in the form of a pointing hand.


Motor disabilities are characterized by mobility and dexterity impairments. People with these disabilities may not be able to use a mouse or keyboard.

There are thousands of assistive technologies available to help people with motor impairments access the web, most of which either work through the keyboard or emulate keyboard functionality.


There are many disabilities out there, and people with different disabilities access the Internet in various ways. They encounter different obstacles that impact their access to web content. Additionally, all of us have been situationally disabled at some point in our lives. A situational disability refers to a temporary state leading to an accessibility issue due to your environment. Two examples include:

  • Needing to listen to an audio book on a road trip because you cannot read the pages while driving.
  • Benefiting from automatic sliding doors when you’re carrying too many groceries in your arms to use a door handle.

It is important for website developers to consider their users in their website’s design and implementation. After all, the accessibility (or lack of it) affects everyone using that website. Together, we can make the Internet accessible to all kinds of users.

Stylish: One of Our Favorite Browser Extensions

Want more display options for webpages? Chrome and Firefox users can customize their visual web experience quickly and easily with the browser extension Stylish. Stylish is free and lets users create and share their own styles if they like.

This extension provides a better experience for all, especially in terms of accessibility. Many users take advantage of Stylish to apply a new color scheme to a website and eliminate unwanted or unnecessary page elements. It can also help users manipulate font sizes on webpages. Another key way Stylish users can enhance the usability of a site is to make answer boxes have a thicker width in order to see them more easily.

Stylish is an excellent tool in customizing display options for websites. For example, they have 149 pages of custom styles for Google. (Yes, that’s right—one hundred forty-nine.) One of the most popular themes is DarkSearch for Google by Stylish contributor Nass O.

Stylish members are volunteers who create User Styles, which are also called website themes or skins. They have a forum set up for questions and sharing valuable information. They include easy instructions on how to install the browser extension and use it to its full capability.

Our developers and content creators at Hawkes love Stylish, and we think you will too!

Find out more from the Stylish website,

Minitab’s Blog: A Statistician’s Dream Resource

One of our favorite statistics resources is Minitab’s blog, Here, statisticians have compiled tips, tricks, and how-tos regarding anything stat-related, as well as easy ways to use Minitab.

These posts are great to share in class or assign for homework so students better understand the concepts they’re applying. Students will like them because most posts are short and to the point, include images of the software so they don’t get lost in each step, and make connections to real-world examples of statistics.

One post, How to Compute Probabilities, walks students through using the Minitab software to compute binomial probabilities, create a table of probabilities, and then visualize them. Another post, Five Ways to Make Your Control Charts More Effective, gives audiences a practical, five-step guide to enhancing their control charts, including identifying drifts ASAP and accounting for atypical periods. Michelle Parat’s Statistical Tools for Process Validation series walks readers through process design, process qualification, and continued process verification to show audiences not only how to complete these steps, but to understand how important they are at companies and real-world settings.

Hawkes Learning’s statistics materials can be bundled with Minitab. Just call us at 1-800-426-9538 to learn more about this option!