EXPLORING THE IMPACT OF GROWTH MINDSET STRATEGIES ON MATHEMATICS PRE-SERVICE TEACHERS’ BELIEFS
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Background: Teachers entering the world of education often have predetermined beliefs about mathematics that may negatively affect instructional practices. These beliefs may or may not be perceptible to the person holding them, and if not addressed early on, could be more difficult to adjust as they continue to teach. Growth mindset interventions disrupt negative beliefs in current educators by causing shifts in instructional practices and challenging personal perceptions. Providing pre-service teachers in a teacher education program with exposure to growth mindset practices may transform their beliefs and actions before ever entering a classroom. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact on pre-service teachers’ beliefs about the teaching and learning of mathematics by implementing growth mindset strategies within an elementary mathematics content course required in a university-based teacher preparation program. The study researched how incorporating certain strategies during their preparation program may potentially equip pre-service teachers with the tools necessary for effective mathematics instruction. The proposed study addressed the following question: How does the implementation of growth mindset strategies within a university-based teacher preparation course, impact pre-service mathematics teachers’ beliefs about the teaching and learning of EC – 6 mathematics? Methods: The participants included 30 students, ranging from a freshman to a senior-level ranking, in a university-level course for pre-service teachers preparing to be elementary and middle grade teachers. The data included a pre- and post- growth mindset survey titled Teacher Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M) Growth Mindset Survey, and field notes from multiple classroom observations, where the researcher noted then analyzed the language and statements made by the pre-service teachers. Finally, the pre-service teachers responded to open-ended scenarios designed to allow pre-service teachers to apply their thought structures through answering questions crafted to elicit mindset beliefs. The survey data was analyzed by using the TEDS-M Conceptual Framework. A series of T-Tests were used to analyze the pre- and post-survey results by each independent statement as well as the overall results. The observation field notes, and the open-ended scenario responses were analyzed and coded by using a growth mindset continuum to determine whether language used during each aligned with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. Conclusions: The data collected from the pre- and post-growth mindset survey and the classroom observations showed an increase in growth mindsets among pre-service teachers by the end of the course. The open-ended scenario questions provided similar results in that pre-service teachers showed a positive shift towards having a growth mindset, however, not as prevalent as the survey and observations. Findings suggest that when asked to apply growth mindset beliefs in real-life scenarios, student language was not as far along the continuum as the other results. Overall, the growth mindset strategies increase pre-service teachers’ growth mindset, and continued interventions are needed to sustain impact.