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Encouraging a growth Mindset in students (Columbus State University-2023)

Strategy/Project Name: 
Encouraging a growth Mindset in students
Momentum Area: 
Change Management
Data & Communications
Strategy/Project Description: 

Academic Mindsets are the attitudes or beliefs one has about oneself

in relation to coursework. The four academic Mindsets involve the sense that students belong to an academic community, the sense that (with effort) their ability and competence can grow, the sense that they can succeed, and the sense that the academic work has value to them. In short, the four academic Mindsets involve the sense of belonging, improving, succeeding, and adding value. This initiative is to promote and encourage growth Mindsets in students and in faculty.

Summary of Activities: 

Activity is ongoing. CSU ADVISE, FYE, and the Academic Center for Tutoring (ACT) provide advising, academic tutoring and coaching, and peer mentoring. SIP grant (Strengthening Institutional Programs) provided funding for services to students on University Support Status, students not making Satisfactory Academic Progress (USAP), and transfer students. All peer tutors and coaches have been trained through the National Center for Developmental Education (NCDE) on techniques to encourage a growth Mindset in students.

The SIP grant funding has concluded, and the programs have been institutionalized so that the valuable work of supporting our students was continued. Advisors in CSU ADVISE have taken on the additional advising for the university support students, while ACT has trained tutors to also serve as coaches, in addition to the peer mentors available in the FYE program

Activity Status: 
Evaluation/Assessment plan: 

Evaluation Plan and measures: CSU is developing an internal Mindset measure for 2023-24 that will be piloted in ROAR modules, advising, and in FYE.

KPIs: Successful administration of internal survey Spring 2024.

Baseline measure: Beginning in 2018, the Mindset survey has aided CSU in noting and developing Mindsets of freshmen and transfer students. However, it was difficult to determine which students were benefiting from Mindset interventions with the USG survey. We desire an instrument that will permit us to drill down to a more granular level of data that can be longitudinal in nature.

Survey in development—to be piloted Spring 2024.

Goal or targets: CSU Administered the USG’s Mindset Survey during week 4 of the Fall 2023 semester and plans to administer the follow-up survey in week 14. The hope is to use the baseline data provided by the System in the Spring as a jumpstart to future momentum planning and refinement of the internal survey.

We will extend the survey to include all students, especially upper division students so growth can be more accurately measured, not just in the freshman year but throughout the undergraduate experience.

Time period/duration: Every semester; ongoing.

Progress and Adjustments: 

Over the years, CSU has shown its flexibility in adapting to change in evaluating and serving students concerning Mindset. For example, in 2017, the First Year Experience (FYE) program and CSU ADVISE were awarded a three-million dollar Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP) grant from USDOE, which supports a cohort of academic coaches and peer mentors, a Learning Support Resource Center, and consulting from nationally recognized experts. These services are aligned with instilling Growth Mindsets in students who can most benefit from it.  In Fall 2019, the National Center for Developmental Education (NCDE) provided CSU’s Learning Support group along with CSU ADVISE’s SIP grant with growth Mindset based metacognitive training modules for its academic coaches and peer mentors.  In Fall 2020, the NCDE provided virtual training on encouraging growth Mindsets and self-efficacy. In Fall 2021, NCDE training was extended to Peer Instruction Leaders (PILs), who implement a modified version of Supplemental Instruction in courses strategically targeted for improvement of course completion rates. As a result, the academic coaches, peer mentors, and PILs learned to implement techniques and strategies to help the students they serve to better understand and adjust their academic Mindsets.

Since 2018, CSU’s Faculty Center has scaled up the discussion about Mindsets among faculty by offering workshops every semester, thereby encouraging discussion of the topic during its new faculty orientation series, offering book circles on the topic and offering forums for faculty, staff, and administrators to develop practices to help students see academic difficulties and challenges as opportunities for growth. Faculty/staff are encouraged to “always be welcoming,” part of our concierge model under development. The Faculty Center offers various “Spark Shops” (such as Writing Across the Curriculum, CHAT GPT, Undergraduate Research, and Global Learning and Diversity) to inform and invigorate faculty.

In Fall 2022, new workshops on Mindset were offered to participants in the Cougar Scholars and Cougar Launch programs. The hope is that the program’s goal of building community can be further strengthened by the addition of workshops which encourage students to start their academic careers with a growth Mindset.

Plan for the Year Ahead: 

Develop and begin administering the survey to students and continue discussions with faculty about Mindsets. Continue asking chairs to call those majors (juniors, seniors) who have not enrolled in courses in a semester in which they were expected to enroll.

Challenges and Support: 


The survey itself is not costly but subsequent interventions are; financial incentives are crucial to targeting students appropriately, whether with financial aid, tutoring, skills assessment plans, counseling, etc. 

CSU needs to reassess

  • How and where we are going to measure Mindset after the initial intake assessment.

Melissa Young and Kaylen Deal will take the lead on closing the loop.

Primary Contact: 
Melissa Young, Director, CSU ADVISE
Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness