Shaping Mindsets: Presentations and panel discussion by Woodie Flowers (MIT), Caitrin Lynch (Olin College), Chee Chew (Amazon), Greg Marra (Facebook) and Richard K. Miller (Olin College President).
Promoting a Growth Mindset in Faculty and Students
Caitrin Lynch, Olin College
This paper focuses on strategies for shaping the mindset of undergraduate students with the goal of enhancing student outcomes academically, in the workforce and in life. It includes a concept for building a voluntary movement to mentor the next generation with mindsets needed to shape the future.
Olin, under your leadership, is much more in sync with the sort of environment and faculty that can positively affect your students mindsets--lots of faculty with good improvement mindsets themselves, motivation to coach and mentor, extensive team projects and experiential learning, and less than usual glorification of super-specialization and knowing more and more about less and less. And I think the student selection process results in a much higher incoming student receptivity and skill set for the "soft people skills" and collaboration receptivity. So, I believe most Olin graduates have a high probability of having a high "well-being" in their post-Olin lives. And the more others see and decide to learn from Olin and adopt many of the approaches, the better.
Uncharacteristically for your papers which I have loved, I have struggled with this one; not that I do not love what Carol Dweck has done: perhaps I interpret her work a lot more narrowly as a personal “can-do attitude” rather than “organizational culture” at large? So, I could not find a clear relationship between her work and the IBM example (Donofrio). So, it seems like you are making a broad case for mindsets, which I of course agree with, but IMO this slice of it per Dweck/Gallup is not sufficient to build the argument of the paper – you had already done that quite well with the former, broader paper on mindsets.
Here's where I agree with the Gallup results, and believe faculty can make the biggest difference in a student's mindset. If faculty can capture their minds and hearts, I believe a student can be inspired and developed in ways that would be very difficult for parents to achieve. The breadth of a faculty member's knowledge in a subject of interest to a student is often well beyond a parent's knowledge in that area. Better yet, bring together multiple faculty from different disciplines to interact and influence students, and they can have an enormous impact on that student. I believe an investment in helping faculty mentor and coach students to develop a growth mindset is a natural extension of what they (faculty) need to do.....it should be part of the faculty member's measured objectives when teaching a student a particular subject.
Over the years, my global responsibilities have allowed me to observe first hand many of the challenges and pain points currently being faced by engineering and STEAM programs across the world. There is a scarcity of Faculty Development programs that effectively help integrate design thinking and digital technologies into their delivery of education. Having extensively interacted with Olin’s students (… hired a few, as well), and its Professors /Administration, I can safely say that Olin’s experiences from the past decade, if properly curated, is ready to scale and share across the world.
Interesting paper. I would comment only that it should be openly discussed with the entering students that these opportunities exist for them. Not only should the instructors be part of this discussion, but the students themselves should be also.
The white paper is a very interesting read. EQ is something we talk about a lot; GE’s Crotonville leadership school has always been more of a cultural megaphone than a technical classroom. Your observations on highly specialized, structured academia parallel the challenges we face in industry. Command-and-control structure, rigid hierarchy and big functional organizations have been obsoleted by networks and more fluid teams that can sense and pivot according to faster market and technology changes.