As a part of the university's new Quality Enhancement Program (QEP), LCU has implemented a program for strategically-selected faculty and staff members to help introduce them to material centered around growth mindsets and how to cultivate a culture of academic tenacity, encouraging students to pursue, persist, and grow through challenges. This interview explored this initiative with two of the participating faculty members, both of whom teach and work in the university library—Barbara Slate, and Karlee Vineyard.
BS: We started out hearing about it at faculty conference last year, and it was really exciting—we wanted to be involved. We went and spoke with Dr. Blackwood and Dr. Box, and asked if we could be involved, even though we weren’t regular classroom faculty, and they were very receptive to the idea of us participating.
BS: First of all, I think I was most struck by the scientific information. We had a speaker come in and talk about the actual physical changes that take place in the brain as we learn—that was incredibly interesting for me particularly. That, and the fact that actively believing that you can do something, and believing in yourself, can physically affect persistence and the ability to keep trying.
KV: That putting forth just a little bit more effort can really make all the difference. The focus on effort really stuck with me.
KV: There have been times that I’ve been fed up with projects, I want to quit, that I don’t know what direction that I need to take, when I’ve been able to remember what I’m learning—that all it takes is a little more persistence, a little more effort. If I can just slow down and back off a little bit, then I can take the time to look at my problem from a different perspective and see if I can make some progress that way. It has really helped me grow personally and have more persistence to push through hard projects when things get tough.
BS: And I know that for me it’s even changed the ways in which I interact with students and am conscious of the perceptions that I’m sending and receiving.
BS: I’ve seen it in our field especially. We do a lot of one-on-one consultations, and I always have told students that it’s called “research” for a reason—you can’t just try one or two searches and then give up on trying to find information on a particular topic. This has given us new approaches to work with them and show them that often we have to try new search terms and look in different places to be successful.
BS: I know that we both have been focusing on reworking how we go about our library instruction with new students. After we had finished Dr. Box’s sessions, we both came back and began working with Shenai Alonge to revise our instruction.
KV: Absolutely. This has forced me to look at the way that I have done instruction in the past and evaluate how I should be changing it to encourage my students to persist more, to use that growth mindset to improve their own learning.
BS: Karlee does all of the freshmen introductory courses, so she sees every freshman who comes onto this campus.
KV: It allows us to think about how we can keep this language consistent in affirming a growth mindset in our students, to help make this a perspective shift.
KV: I see it impacting the whole university in a very positive way. I think it can only be beneficial for our students to learn that as they pursue knowledge, when they persist and hang in there even when things get tough, it will only help them grow and gain a better education in the end. I see very positive results for our entire campus.
BS: As all of the faculty go through the training and implement it into their own courses, I see that having a very positive impact.