01 SES 04 A, Wellbeing, Mindset and Professional Development
This study focuses on teachers' perceptions regarding the belief in the malleability of skills, and the factors that enhance or inhibit teacher mindset.
Mindsets, also known as implicit theories, refer to individuals’ perceptions about their own characteristics, such as intelligence and personality (Dweck, 2000), and form a psychological theoretical framework that helps to explain the mechanisms underlying the desire of teachers to improve themselves professionally. Dweck (2000) has shown that some people regard abilities, skills, and intelligence as having a stable, innate, and inflexible essence, while others see them as malleable or learned traits. These two distinct approaches are referred to as fixed mindset (entity theory) and growth mindset (incremental theory). In general, individuals with a growth mindset are most likely to learn and reach higher levels (Duckworth, 2016).
Teacher mindset is particularly important in educational settings because the teacher's role is all about leading students towards change in knowledge and skills, as well as in beliefs and perceptions. In general, teachers tend to adopt a growth mindset slightly more often than average when compared to the general population (Fang, 2017). Studies have found variations between the mindsets of different teachers, based on seniority and field of study (Jonsson, Beach, Korp & Erlandson, 2012).
Studies on teacher mindsets have found that teachers who believe in their ability to improve will have higher self-efficacy levels (Williams, 2012). Growth mindset, together with self-efficacy, was found to predict how teachers will cope with behavioral problems in the classroom and whether they will seek help for skill development (Inbar-Furst & Gumpel, 2015). A link has also been found between teacher mindset and instructional practices (Jonsson et al., 2012). Moreover, teachers who believed that they could improve, expressed a more positive attitude towards professional development, tended to participate more often in teacher training (Gero, 2013), and received feedback, thereby improving their performance (Stenzel, 2015).
While the implications of mindset have been studied extensively within a general context, a reference to the factors either enhancing or inhibiting the adoption of a particular mindset can scarcely be found in the literature. . Studies have shown that teacher mindset is predetermined long before teacher training begins (Pajares, 1992), and is based on their past experiences as students (Lortie, 1975). Designated training sessions were found to significantly enhance growth mindset among teachers (Seaton, 2018). Moreover, in a recent study, Dweck (2017) has suggested that individual's patterns of thinking are influenced by their basic values. Another study which looked at the factors affecting teacher participation in professional development (Geldenhuys & Oosthuizen, 2015) did not take into consideration the reasons for teacher unwillingness to participate in professional development, nor did it address their mindset.
The purpose of this study is to examine teacher perceptions concerning the factors that enhance or inhibit the development of a growth mindset. The research questions are:
1) Which factors do teachers perceive as enhancing growth mindset?
2) Which factors do teachers perceive as inhibiting growth mindset?
3) What is the relationship between the enhancing and inhibiting factors?
This qualitative study focuses on how reality is perceived by those who experience it (Creswell & Poth, 2018). The qualitative method enables a holistic description of the components of the learned phenomenon and places the research findings within their original context (Marshall & Rossman, 2016). It is therefore appropriate for this study, which examines teacher perceptions of the factors affecting the development of mindset. Participants Fourteen teachers (six men and eight women), who teach in secular Jewish schools located in central Israel, were selected using the "snowball" method (Goodman, 1961). Based on a purposeful sampling strategy, we used theoretical sampling (Corbin & Strauss, 2015). This research design refers to “sampling individuals that can contribute to building the opening and axial coding of the theory” (Creswell & Poth, 2018, p.157). Seven of the teachers teach in primary schools, two in junior high and five in high schools. The seniority of the teachers ranged from 1-35 years, a purposefully wide range intended to include the opinions of both novice and veteran teachers. Instrument A semi-structured interview was used, designed to extract a wide range of aspects of the phenomenon being studied, even those that the researchers had not considered in advance. Using a constructivist approach, the interviewer placed emphasis on "eliciting the participant's definitions of terms, situations, and events, and try to tap his or her assumptions, implicit meanings, and tacit rules" (Charmaz, 2014, p. 95). Each interview opened with a brief explanation of the purpose of the research, its context and ethical aspects, and continued with questions about each teacher's thoughts and opinions about the malleability of their own skill sets (how they perceive static or dynamic skills and abilities, and how they implement them at work), coping strategies, and the factors affecting them. Data Analysis The interviews were processed using a subject analysis technique that focuses on content. The interviewer's statements were extracted and mapped into single units of meaning, in order to identify repeated patterns (Bazeley, 2013). The analysis process was circular, and ranged from extracting categories and themes from the interview transcripts, to finding relevant statements for the extracted categories and themes, i.e., a combination of data-driven coding and theory-driven coding (Bernard & Ryan, 2009). This process was carried out manually by the first researcher and reviewed by the second.
Factors Enhancing Growth Mindset (1st question): In total, 103 statements were recorded, which included internal factors such as personal background, success experiences, inner motivation for teaching, and grit. The teachers also referred to external factors such as mentorship and feedback, learning climate, principal support and dictated external changes. Factors that Inhibit Growth Mindset (2nd question): Eighty two statements were related to factors that inhibit growth mindset, including an individual's personal background, burnout, and ego as internal factors, and an unsupportive environment and teacher status as external. Interactions between enhancing and inhibiting factors (3rd question): The combination of internal and external factors with enhancing and inhibiting factors led to a typology of four conditions: Flow, Rigidity, Blocking, and Stagnation. We present findings regarding one condition: Rigidity - "I am doing fine. I don’t want to change" This condition emphasizes enhancing external factors alongside inhibiting internal factors. For example, externally positive mentoring may conflict with uncompromising and tough egos: “Once you tell a teacher ‘you have to change’, you actually tell them they are doing something wrong, so they get more stubborn and internally rigid relative to their surroundings” (Alon). The conflict between conservatism and innovation may lead teachers to adopt mainly conventional strategies. To sum, the factors influencing mindset include internal characteristics (life experiences and values), which are deeply embedded in an individual's past and are resistant to later influence (Dweck, 2017). This, however, does not mean that teacher mindset is impervious to change. Factors of external context should be taken into consideration to encourage the development of a growth mindset. Furthermore, the significance of internal factors (education and successful experiences), implies that it is worthwhile to develop student mindset from an early age to cultivate the factors that will enhance their growth mindset as adults.
Bazeley, P. (2013). Qualitative Data Analysis: Practical Strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Bernard, H.R., & Ryan, G.W. (2009). Analyzing Qualitative Data: Systematic Approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Brookhart, S.M., & Freeman, D.J. (1992). Characteristics of entering teacher candidates. Review of Educational Research, 62, 37-60. Charmaz, K. (2014). Constructing grounded theory. London: Sage. Corbin, J., & Strauss, S. (2015). Basics of qualitative research: techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Creswell, J.W., & Poth, C.N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry research design - choosing among five approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Duckworth, A. (2016). Grit: The power of passion and perseverance. New York, NY: Scribner. Dweck, C.S. (2000). Self theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Lillington, NC: Edwards Brothers. Dweck, C. S. (2017). From needs to goals and representations: Foundations for a unified theory of motivation, personality, and development. Psychological Review, 124(6), 689-719. Fang, F. F. A. (2017). Teachers' Beliefs About the Nature and Malleability of Intelligence (Doctoral dissertation, Columbia University). Geldenhuys, J. L., & Oosthuizen, L. C. (2015). Challenges influencing teachers' involvement in continuous professional development: A South African perspective. Teaching and Teacher Education, 51, 203-212. Gero, G.P. (2013). What drives teachers to improve? The role of teacher mindset in professional learning (Doctoral dissertation, The Claremont Graduate University). Goodman, L.A. (1961). Snowball sampling. The annals of mathematical statistics, 32, 148-170. Inbar-Furst, H., & Gumpel, T. P. (2015). Factors affecting female teachers' attitudes toward help-seeking or help-avoidance in coping with behavioral problems. Psychology in the Schools, 52(9), 906-922. Jonsson, A. C., Beach, D., Korp, H., & Erlandson, P. (2012). Teachers’ implicit theories of intelligence: Influences from different disciplines and scientific theories. European Journal of Teacher Education, 35, 387-400. Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher: A sociological study. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2016). Designing Qualitative Research (6th edition). LA: Sage Publications. Pajares, F. M. (1992). Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: Cleaning up a messy construct. Review of Educational Research, 62, 307-332. Seaton, F. S. (2018). Empowering teachers to implement a growth mindset. Educational Psychology in Practice, 34(1), 41-57. Stenzel, B. K. (2015). Correlation between teacher mindset and perceptions regarding coaching, feedback, and improved instructional practice (Doctoral dissertation, University of Nebraska at Omaha). Williams, A. Y. (2012). Applications of Dweck's model of implicit theories to teachers' self-efficacy and emotional experiences (Doctoral dissertation, University of Maryland, College Park).
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