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Self-efficacy is important to a students level of engagement and is a measure of how competent a student feels in their ability to complete the

tasks or gain proficiency in learning goals. A student needs to believe in themselves and have self-confidence to face challenges in order to be successful in their academics and life. According to social theorists, people with high self-efficacy will approach a challenging situation as a task to work hard for and master, this is an example of growth theory, whereas a person with low self-efficacy or a fixed theory will avoid the challenge. In growth theory, the student has a mindset that hard work and effort lead to increased intelligence. The opposing fixed theory mindset is that intelligence is a fixed trait and something that we cannot change despite hard work and diligence. The difference between the characteristics of growth and fixed theory is important for educators to understand, because fixed theory is deeply embedded in some students and can be detrimental to their success and engagement in school. Students with a fixed mindset of ability do not like challenges, they feel vulnerable and will not take risks in their learning, they have low aspirations, and prefer easy learning goals so that they can earn positive praise. These students believe that they were born with a limited amount of intelligence and they cannot change or work hard to be smarter. Students with this mindset are a great challenge for teachers who must be aware of how their personal beliefs and behaviors can affect how students view themselves. When students believe that they can work hard and experience improved grades as described by the growth theory then the students exhibit behaviors where they love to take on a challenge and they have the confidence to attempt difficult tasks. They use feedback to improve their performance and they try harder by tracking their progress and pushing themselves to make a greater effort, and they possess a great motivation to learn. These students see failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. They work harder when faced with adversity.

As educators we need to be careful to give students effective feedback and praise. When we give the wrong kinds of praise to students we can inadvertently promote a fixed mindset by telling students that they are smart when they actually accomplished little. This gives the student the wrong message. When a teacher gives praise and feedback there needs to be thought to how those words will affect the students opinion of themselves, or how that will be interpreted by students in the classroom. If we give students meaningless praise we are telling them that they have limited ability and we want them to feel good about themselves regardless of their shortcomings. We do not want students to look smart but instead we need to reward and praise their effort and hard work that leads to achievement so that they keep engaging in their learning. Our message should be that hard work and effort will lead to success and that we believe that they can accomplish anything if they work hard enough. When students have a set-back and they have been rewarded for their effort and achievements they will not view the challenge as a measure of their intelligence but as a measure of how hard they worked towards this goal and as they reflect on their effort they will be motivated to try harder. In order for students to see the correlation between their effort and their achievement they should track their progress and their effort. When they have the opportunity to see their increased progress in relation to hard work and increased effort then this will increase their self-efficacy and will develop a growth perspective. The student, will over time, develop a growth theory attitude and should establish greater motivation to work harder to improve achievement. Teachers can also use this as an opportunity to conference with the students to build self-esteem, self-confidence and self-efficacy so that students develop a growth mindset. With encouragement from the teacher towards hard work and improved work habit then the student should progress and change their behavior and exhibit greater motivation to study and prepare for assessments. The students are also more likely to participate in class and academic experiences.

In order to foster a growth mindset, teachers need to communicate praise for effort and hard work rather than talent and ability, provide feedback on how to improve, set high expectations that are achievable and believe that intelligence is changeable and not based on innate ability. After learning about these two theories I have been very mindful of how I communicate praise and feedback to my students. During the conferences with my students I have discussed the relationship between their effort and their improvement in grades and I have been careful not to mention talent or innate ability. Last week, one of my AVID students was very excited about a greatly improved grade that she received in Geometry. I asked her what she did to improve and she explained that she had gone to tutoring and studied very hard for the test. We compared this effort to the lack of preparation she had made for a previous test where the score was unacceptable. She feels more motivated to study and to attend tutoring now, because she was rewarded by a feeling of accomplishment and success based on her hard work and increased effort. In order to further promote this mindset I plan to compare the two theories in my AVID classroom so that students are more aware of how their growth or fixed mindset can affect their progress. We will then engage in a Socratic discussion so that we can think more deeply about this knowledge and how it might affect student progress toward their goals to graduate high school and be successful in college. As we all become more aware of detrimental mindsets, then we can change our behavior towards what our AVID program stands for which is Achievement via Individual Determination. As their academic coach I can be more cognizant of how I can increase self-efficacy in my students and inspire them to achieve their goals through hard work and determination. If I can increase self-efficacy as it relates to growth theory my students will increase skill-development, will be persistent in preparation for assessments, will try harder despite adversity or failure, and will experience less stress. The students will take ownership of their own learning, will increase their participation in class, and will attack academic challenges with confidence and a belief in their ability to succeed.

References Marzano, R.J., & Pickering, D.J. (2011). The highly engaged classroom. Bloomington, IN: MRL