“I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison
The power to see positives and embrace failures is what fuels a mindset that can never stop growing and exploring possibilities. Just as the famous quote by Edison reflects the behavior of never giving up, it is vital for college students to empower themselves with a positive attitude.
As college students are on their journey of learning, building new friendships, and planning for their future, a growth mindset helps them stay on the right track. It is the mindset that helps students develop self-esteem, and confidence and boosts their morale.
Developing a successful future-oriented mindset helps them strive better in current projects and learning. So, it is time to switch to effective growth mindset activities that help build a positive attitude in the classroom. Right from handling problems, and facing criticism to getting the work done, this article will take you through thoughtful activities that are perfect for encouraging students to master the art of a growth mindset.
Fostering growth mindset in college students: Helpful activities to consider
Unlike the structured world of school, students are exposed to the realities of the real world in college. This transition places everyone in a constant pursuit of self-improvement and achievement. However, it is important to note that every effort and hard work does not yield the desired results, leading to feelings of failure and discouragement.
In such instances, cultivating a growth mindset becomes not only crucial but also empowering. To foster mental resilience, collaboration, and a positive outlook among college students, here are several activities that actively engage them in the process of developing this mindset through consistent practice.
1. Find the Positive
A growth mindset develops in college students when they analyze every situation with determination and a positive attitude. This activity focuses on enhancing a positive outlook toward every situation they encounter while aspiring for great success. Moreover, this will provide them with an opportunity to refine the art of eliminating negative thoughts. For this activity, think of many negative situations in college, everyday life, and other life instances.
Present these situations to students; their task is to analyze the situation and find something positive out of it. For example, the situation could be – You recently got late in submission of a project and are asked to redo it. In this situation, one of the positive ways to see it is that the student got a chance to rework and present the project with more accuracy and efficiency.
2. The Real Heroes!
It is important for college students to learn from famous examples that serve as a great source of inspiration. Students are easily influenced by famous personalities and learning about their success stories can help them reflect and work on their attitude toward a growth mindset. Hence, this activity focuses on creating awareness of famous people who exhibited positive outlook, determination, and dedication.
In this activity, divide students into teams of 2 members each. They need to pick a case study of failures faced by famous personalities that also lead to success later. They can use pictures, graphs, audio-visual presentations, and other modes of representation. For example, they can present the example of J.K. Rowling who struggled throughout her life and then wrote Harry Potter, a novel series, leading to success.
3. SW Challenge
A growth mindset can only be developed when students are aware of themselves. It is vital for students to know their emotions, strengths, feelings, and weaknesses to better understand the concept of mindfulness and growth. For this activity, students need to critically think and then begin. Give a sheet of paper to all students and ask them to make two boxes.
One box should be titled Strengths while the other should be titled Weaknesses. Students need to analyze their thoughts, academic journey, social life, and overall outlook on life and then mention strengths and weaknesses. Once done, they should read them aloud and other students are free to offer solutions. Only when students learn to accept their weaknesses and give more power to their strengths then they can create a positive growth mindset.
4. Kindness is a Thing!
Different acts of kindness always help students learn the way of living, build confidence, and boost the feeling of optimism in them. This simple activity fosters a positive environment and helps students build empathy for society as well.
For this activity, divide students into teams of 3 members each. Ask them to indulge in any act of kindness for parents, teachers, other children, or society members in general. For example, one team could collect stationery for an NGO while the other team could clean a public park on a Sunday. Social skills activities like this develop positive behavior and help students build a positive attitude.
5. Interview Rounds!
When students get an opportunity to know how the real world works, that’s when they understand how to channel their thoughts and knowledge. Real-life examples and such situations not only help them prepare for the future but also nurture their analytical skills. This activity involves learning, adapting to circumstances, and gaining experience from the experts. For this activity, invite senior teachers to act as interviewers.
Now, students need to select any profession they are interested in. It could be in business, teaching, social services, and so on. Students will be the interviewees while senior teachers are responsible for asking relevant questions. Based on the performance, teachers might share their feedback leading to relevant suggestions for the student’s growth. You may also check interview activity ideas to further enhance a future-oriented mindset in students.
6. TED Talks
As the name suggests, this activity involves using TED talks by famous personalities across the globe. TED talks can be super helpful for students as speakers share their real stories involving struggle, loss, growth, competition, and the final stage of success. It helps students know how things work in a process and a positive mindset leads to fruitful results.
For this activity, collect the relevant growth mindset TED talks which address the importance of positive attitude, never giving up, or success in general. Now, play these videos in the classroom and ask students to watch them carefully. Ask students to make a report on the session and allow them to share their feedback at the end. It allows students to reflect on their learning.
7. The Debate Begins
Healthy discussions lead to an exchange of information and fresh ideas among students. While students learn to put their opinions, they also learn to accept other people’s opinions and perspectives. A growth mindset does require command over language but it also requires active listening skills to better understand others.
For this activity, divide the students into teams of 3 members each. Now, take some interesting debate topics that tap into the essence of developing a growth mindset. Have 2 chits – For and Against and let each team select one. They need to start the debate and the audience can decide which team did better.
8. What’s the Use?
Brainstorming activities involve the participation of students in a team thereby enhancing collaboration among them. To develop a growth mindset, students need to learn the importance of working in teams. When they work in teams, they are likely to face criticism, unmatched opinions, and a few problems. Such circumstances help them arrive at solutions while working with people.
For this activity, make a presentation of products that are not very useful in the market. You may simply find unhelpful inventions on the internet and paste those pictures into the audio-visual presentation. Invite each student to sell this product to a classmate. Such an activity promotes an active learning mindset which not only helps them grow but also makes them problem-solvers. This will help them think of a product in a way that makes it a more useful and helpful product increasing its sales and demand in the market. The same goes for the growth mindset which calls for a positive outlook in any negative or demotivating situation.
9. 21-Day Challenge
An important aspect of success is to inculcate values of discipline and consistency. Providing students with opportunities to develop these skills leads to a growth mindset. Hence, this activity focuses on building consistency and maintaining control over the tasks.
For this activity, ask students about their areas of interest which could include painting, poem writing, exercising, or even if it is a sport. Whatever students choose, they need to consistently indulge in that activity for 21 days and share their experience on the 21st day.
For example, if a student chooses to journal, he/she can present the journal for 21 days to the class. He/she needs to share the experience including how good or bad it was or what were the challenges faced and how he/she overcame those, etc. Also, They need to reflect on the challenges and how those difficulties were not a setback but actually helped them in their journey which is the core value to develop in the case of a growth mindset.
10. Appreciation Box
While it seems underrated, appreciating others requires confidence and the ability to see others as a source of inspiration. When students acquire the willingness to see something better in others, they learn to embrace differences and accept them. This activity promotes a positive attitude and collaboration among students.
For this activity, give students a square cutout of paper and other student’s names. Make sure the names of all students are mentioned on the different papers. Now, distribute the papers randomly and students need to write something nice about the student whose name is mentioned on the paper. Once done, read out everything in front of the class and let everyone embrace their unique qualities. It also helps promote diversity of thoughts and acceptance in students.
Other essential ways to develop a growth mindset in college students
While growth mindset activities help students prepare for real-life challenges and situations, it is equally important to provide different learning opportunities. Below mentioned are efficient ways that help boost a development mindset in college students.
- Help students with goal setting and analyzing their strengths for their future profession. As students learn to set smart goals, they are likely to get a better idea of what and how they need to follow.
- Encourage participation in different games and activities that help eliminate the fear of failure. Increased participation leads to confidence and collaboration among students.
- Share examples of people in the surrounding which could include teachers and members of the society who have achieved something significant with hard work and consistent effort. At times, even the common people and their work can act as a source of inspiration.
- Empower students with the technique of mind mapping which helps them understand their thoughts, aims, and the next steps better. You may use helpful mind-mapping activities to help them make the most of the mind-mapping technique.
- Lastly, provide students with constructive feedback that should include appreciation as well as the areas of improvement. When students learn to accept different types of feedback, they are likely to filter their thoughts and actions for a positive outcome.
A healthy and happy mindset is the one that helps students figure out their future course of action, emotions, and career options. It is important for teachers and educators to modify the learning environment by including a combination of theoretical and practical understanding.
With the help of the above-mentioned growth mindset activities, students get an opportunity to understand themselves and work towards their goals. It also channels their thoughts and actions only to develop confidence in their future endeavors.
I am Shweta Sharma. I am a final year Masters student of Clinical Psychology and have been working closely in the field of psycho-education and child development. I have served in various organisations and NGOs with the purpose of helping children with disabilities learn and adapt better to both, academic and social challenges. I am keen on writing about learning difficulties, the science behind them and potential strategies to deal with them. My areas of expertise include putting forward the cognitive and behavioural aspects of disabilities for better awareness, as well as efficient intervention. Follow me on LinkedIn