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Growth mindset study seeks to expand to area high schools

Joyce Ehrlinger
Joyce Ehrlinger

Believing in your ability to learn can make you smarter. This is the idea Joyce Ehrlinger, assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University, is bringing to high school classrooms in the Inland Northwest.

For the last year, Ehrlinger and a team of researchers have worked with math students at Pullman and Moscow high schools to develop a growth mindset, the belief that the ability to learn is not fixed by your IQ but can be developed through dedication and hard work. She is currently looking to expand the study to high schools in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and elsewhere in the region.

“Say you fail a math test. For someone who thinks math is an ability you either have or don’t have, this negative feedback makes them pull away from math completely,” Ehrlinger said. “For someone with a growth mindset, failing a test is not a complete overarching statement about them as a person and their abilities; rather, it gives them specific information about where they can improve.”

Ehrlinger’s post-doctoral work with Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck provided conclusive evidence a growth mindset ultimately leads to higher grades, higher SAT scores and greater confidence to tackle difficult subjects. However, psychologists do not have a strong understanding of why or how the growth mindset helps overall performance.

Ehrlinger’s hope is to fix this with her current study.

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Math tutors in lab coats add to student success

Mathematics Learning Center (MLC) is a free resource for all WSU students
Mathematics Learning Center (MLC) is a free resource for all WSU students

During every one of the 56 hours the WSU Math Learning Center is open each week, anywhere from three to eight tutors roam the large, tabled room dressed in distinctive white lab coats, ready to help anyone with a raised hand or a question.

The center opened quietly 18 months ago and attendance has been on the rise ever since. In fact, student visits more than tripled last semester, rising to a 1,729 weekly average and a grand total of nearly 26,000 student visits over the course of 15 weeks of instruction.

“I think this is one of the most important things WSU has done for undergraduate students in the 25 years I’ve been here,” said Sandy Cooper, associate professor of mathematics and associate chair of the Department of Mathematics.

Learn more about the center and watch the video

Faculty expand teaching opportunities: Arts, science programs reach out to young minds

Jeanne McHale
Jeanne McHale

After teaching chemistry to WSU students for 30 years, Jeanne McHale wondered how to explain solar energy conversion to a bunch of squirmy teens and tweens in a weeklong summer camp.

“I had to consider what words I could use to make it understandable without dumbing it down to the point of nonsense,” she said.

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