Mindset, Strengths, and Hope

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A Summer 2013 Workshop for U100 Faculty with Nyla Dalferes and Erin Delaney

University 100 faculty members Erin Delaney and Nyla Jolly Dalferes presented this summer workshop on mindset, StrengthsQuest, and lasting hope in July 2013. The focus was on using principles of positive psychology in University 100 classes to build student confidence and to enable students to succeed at the university.

Though it's not possible to sum up the workshop adequately after the fact, you can still learn from the materials that Erin and Nyla provided; they are listed below under "Resources."

Sticky notes posted in the shape of leaves on branches illustrating how thoughts grow Erin introduced the work of Carol Dweck with a compilation of materials centered on "Encouraging a Growth Mindset in the Classroom." This compilation included a link to the brief article "Brainology" (again, see below under "Resources"), which Erin regularly assigns in all of her undergraduate classes as required reading for the second class meeting. Erin also provided a "Mindset Warm-Up Activity" that could be used with students in a U100 classroom. Finally, she included an exercise comparing "Fixed and Growth Mindset" that might be useful for both faculty and students.

Nyla's materials focused on additional positive psychologyconcepts that parallel the concerns of mindset, including Hope Theory and StrengthsQuest. StrengthsQuest is an self-assessment instrument that is being used by over 1000 new freshmen at CSUN each year (most in U100 classes). The instrument helps students identify their own talents and encourages them to develop those talents through practice and learning. The net result is that "students feel more confident about their abilities to make career and academic decisions because they know their strengths."

Nyla provided attendees with several resources (again, see the list below): a brief article on "Positive Psychology and Higher Education"; a series of slides explaining how "Strengths & Hope" complement Dweck's concept of mindset--and showing how faculty can incorporate these ideas in UNIV 100--; a "Talents and Performance" worksheet designed by Gallup StrengthsQuest; and another exercise ("Information Integration and Goal Setting," adapted from The Career Fitness Program by Bendat et al., 2007) that helps students connect their StrengthsQuest results to short-term and long-term goals.

Finally, it's worth noting that the topic of Mindset, Strengths, and Hope connects in multiple ways with the University Counseling Services lesson plan for fall 2013 U100 faculty, especially including the ExCEL video and Facilitator's Guide by UCS director Mark Stevens. The video and the guide are both available to U100 faculty in the Moodle Instructor's Manual for the course.

Resources from the workshop (described above)

  1. "Encouraging a Growth Mindset in the Classroom": pedagogical principles and some suggestions
  2. "Brainology: Transforming Students’ Motivation to Learn" by Carol S. Dweck. Independent School Magazine. Winter 2008.
  3. "Mindset Warm-Up Activity" useful as an introduction to the topic
  4. "Fixed and Growth Mindset" exercise
  5. "Positive Psychology and Higher Education" (.pdf) by Shane J. Lopez.
  6. "Strengths & Hope" slideshow (.pptx) with further links to "Caine's Arcade" (YouTube) and a video interview (link updated 7.29.13) with Shane J. Lopez
  7. Talents and Performance worksheet (.pdf)
  8. Information Integration and Goal Setting exercise (.pdf)
  9. BONUS #1: Fixed vs. Growth Mindset Infographic

More resources

  1. Five short videos on growth mindset: a collection assembled by WKCD (What Kids Can Do), accompanied by activities for professional development and classroom assignments (Nov. 2013)