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.

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!

Find Funding for Your Tech Initiatives

Have a fantastic idea for your class that involves technology, but you and your school don’t have the funds? Unfortunately, that’s a common problem. Fortunately, several grant opportunities exist!

Kajeet, a service that helps students access internet outside of school to complete their homework, provides a list of 99 federal technology funding resources for 2017.

This list includes national grants for which educators from any state can apply, and the report also provides information on state-specific funding options.

Check out the grant opportunities Kajeet lists here.

How to view questions students struggle with and reply with feedback

Did you know that your students can send you a screenshot of a problem they are struggling with in the Practice mode through our Send to Instructor tool?

This tool gives you the ability to see exactly what question students need help with and provide instruction or hints to help them solve the problem. If you don’t already have this enabled, you can do so under Tools Tab -> Display Options:

An arrow points to a check box next to the words

If you’re looking for an interactive way to respond and show students a worked-out solution to the question, here are some apps for iPads and other Mac products that instructors have shared with us on how they accomplish this!

Notability ($7.99)

The Notability app.

ZoomNotes Lite (Free)

 The ZoomNotes Lite app

Mental Note Lite (Free)

The Mental Note Lite app.

To respond using one of the above apps, open the email from the Hawkes messaging system on your iPad/tablet or phone and take a screenshot of the question. Each app gives you the ability to choose the photos from your photo gallery that you’d like to use.

Just like using a whiteboard, you are able to work out the problem and show students the step-by-step breakdown of the work! When you’re finished, you can send your worked-out solution by email. (ZoomNotes Lite even has graph paper!)

A handwritten equation worked out on the screen.

Don’t have a Mac product? No problem! Dr. Stephan Kinholt from Green River College has shared how he sends feedback to students using his PC in the video he created below:

20th Century vs. 21st Century: What are major differences in their classrooms?

We all know education has evolved over the years—and it even changes daily! Some of those differences can be hard to notice as you’re running through your day-to-day routine in your own classroom. We found this PDF from 21st Century Schools and Canadian Accredited Independent Schools helpful in understanding the changes in approach, pedagogy, and structure between 20th-century and 21st-century classrooms. Plus, it’s incredibly interesting!

This chart breaks down some key differences. For example, a class in the 20th century was a time-based, teacher-as-judge space isolated to one classroom with a fragmented curriculum and low expectations for students. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find a competency- or outcome-based,  student-centered class connecting ideas to a global environment and interdisciplinary lessons that raise the expectations for student success.

Of course, several changes to the classroom are due to the available technology we now have. Resources like Hawkes’s course management system give instructors the chance to focus more time with students on their learning rather than grading homework and tests. Society is becoming more high-tech than ever, and using technology in the classroom helps prepare students for the expectations set by most career paths in this fast-paced world.

Make sure to check out the document here and please let us know of other differences between last century’s classroom and our current one in the comments below!

“20th Century Classroom vs. the 21st Century Classroom.” CAIS. 21st Century Schools. n.d. Web. 19 July 2016.


Accenting the English Class with Technology

“We need technology in every classroom and in every student and teacher’s hand, because it is the pen and paper of our time, and it is the lens through which we experience much of our world.” – David Warlick

Technology in the classroom can daunt even the most seasoned instructor, but most have used PowerPoint or have shown videos to drive the lesson home to students. Here are 5 reasons why you should test the waters with technology!

Five Benefits of Adding Technology to Your Class

  1. Spend less time grading and more time teaching.

Having the right system in place to keep track of student progress and assignment completion frees you up to devote more time to lesson planning, answering students’ questions, or even grabbing that extra cup of coffee before the next class.

  1. Prepare students for jobs.

Students will need to know how to format emails and perform effective internet research by the time they graduate. Jobs in all disciplines—from architecture to geology to mechanical engineering—require a high level of comfort with technology that only comes with exposure and experience.

  1. Diversify learning opportunities.

Some may think that introducing more technology into the classroom takes away from your role as an instructor, but it actually gives you more options to customize your course! It’s now easier than ever to share readings and videos from your lesson plans by making them available online. And with discussion boards and live chats, students can keep learning from you and their peers before and after class.

  1. Further engage your students.

Incorporating technology in your class, such as by asking students to use their smartphones for projects, encouraging them to write blog posts, or assigning a Photoshop project to expand their ideas of composition, makes learning more interactive and meaningful. Additionally, these different projects cater to different learning styles. You may see previously quiet students perk up at the chance to try something new.

  1. Improve classroom organization.

Are scattered sticky notes and coffee-stained planners plaguing you instead of helping you? Help yourself and your students by taking advantage of email calendars and reminders; then show your class how these tools help with time management skills. Your students (and the planet) will thank you.

Bonebrake, Jon for UB Academic Advising. “Using Google Calendar for College Students.” Online video. YouTube. YouTube, 11 June 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2016.

What are other reasons you use technology in your classroom? Let us know in the comments below!