Spotlight on Innovation: How Indiana State University is Accelerating College Completion

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The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 24 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

by Sarah Seigle and Daniel Fusch, Academic Impressions

"There is a body of research suggesting the importance of a 'growth mindset' and its application in a collegiate setting," Josh Powers, Indiana State's AVP for student success, and Liz Brown, professor in Indiana State's Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, told us recently, citing the work of theorist Carol Dweck and colleagues at Stanford's PERTS Research Center, which focuses on projects for education research that scale. "In a nutshell, a growth mindset is about the degree to which you believe you have the capability to achieve in a certain area through hard work.

"For example, in the area of math, there is an interesting American phenomenon where you either believe you 'get it' or you don't, and that somehow intelligence is fixed. This is a challenge in different subject areas, but especially in math. In a number of other countries, this isn't the case: the mentality elsewhere is that math may be a difficult subject, but that anyone can learn it if they work hard enough. For some in the US, however, a common belief is that intelligence is fixed."

But intelligence is through hard work.

At Indiana State University, Powers and Brown believe that the necessity of encouraging a growth mindset may be the most critical key to cracking the case of college completion.

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