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A huge study finds that the attitude of professors affects students' grades

  A huge study finds that the attitude of professors affects students' grades.


"You just have to believe!" It's the kind of trivelin you expect in a children's movie about a magical talking dog. However, it seems that the term is an important piece of advice for college professors. This is the result of a large study at Indiana University led by Elizabeth Canning. There, the researchers examined the attitudes of teachers and the grades their students had earned in class.

Mind the gap

One of the disappointing problems in higher education is the frequent existence of a "performance gap" between under-represented minorities and other students. It seems to be the result of various obstacles faced by students along the way, from stereotypes to the question of which groups are naturally trained in what areas, about cultural differences that make some students hesitant, help in the classroom search, to the point of missing benefits in primary school and further education. Much can get in the way.

So these scenarios do not have to assume the ugly form of a racist teacher telling a student that they are not welcome. Many problems are unintentional and subtle. If, for any reason, a student feels that they are not expected to be successful, it may block the motivation to make sure that is not the case.

Because of this, researchers decided to look at something fine they expected. Maybe it's important if professors thought that a student's intelligence is firm and unchanging, or they think that they could be developed. A simple survey was sent to all instructors of the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses at Indiana University, and an impressive 40 percent responded ̵

1; 150 instructors for 634 courses. The researchers also collected more details, such as years of experience and ethnicity.

The researchers then gained access to two-year student grades in these instructor classes, covering a total of 15,000 students . The identifying information has been removed, but some information such as the input of the SAT values ​​and the ethnic origin has been retained. In a further step, the researchers also received the feedback ratings submitted by the students, although these answers were completely anonymous.

Firm or flexible

The results showed a surprising difference between the professors who agreed that the intelligence is fixed and those who disagree (referred to as "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset" professors). In classes taught by regular mentality teachers, Latino, African American, and Native students gave an average of .19 points (out of four) among white and Asian-American students. In classes taught by "Growth Mindset" instructors, the gap narrowed to just 0.10.

  Grades for under-represented minorities (URM) and white or Asian-American students in courses taught by professors who consider intelligence to be fixed or possible. "src =" https://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/stem_profs_fig1-640x465.jpg "width =" 640 "height =" 465 "srcset =" https: // cdn .arstechnica .net / wp-content / uploads / 2019/02 / stem_profs_fig1.jpg 2x
Enlarge / Grades for under-represented minorities (URM) and white or Asian-American students in courses taught by professors Think Intelligence is fixed or can be developed.

No other factor studied by the researchers showed a statistically significant difference between the classes – not the experience of the instructor, the status of the teacher, gender, a particular department, or even ethnicity. Their belief in determining whether the intelligence of a student is fixed, however, seems to have had a significant impact.

The reviews of the students contain possible hints. Students reported less motivation to do their best work in the classes taught by fixed mindset professors, and they also rated lower for the question of whether their professor "emphasized" learning and development ( 19459028) would recommend the professor to others.

Is it possible that the fixed mindset professors happen to be teaching the toughest classes? The students' ratings also ask how much time the course takes – the average answer was slightly higher for fixed mindset professors, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Instead, the researchers believe that the data suggest that trainers who call their students' brains the fixed Don are in some ways small, do not think their students are motivated, and perhaps focus less on teaching techniques that promote growth Although this affects all students, it seems to have an additional impact on underrepresented minority students.

The good news, the researchers say, is that teachers can be made to adopt a stronger attitude to growth in their education through their own little education. This small attitude could make them a more effective teacher, which is of great benefit to a large number of students.

Open Access at Science Advances 2019. DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.aau4734 (About DOIs

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