Middle School Students’ Mindsets Before and After Open-Ended Problems

Micah Stohlmann, Xing Huang, Lina DeVaul

Abstract


Growth mindset is an important belief for students to be successful in mathematics and in their current and future lives. Solving open-ended problems also has many positive benefits for students. Little research has been conducted though on growth mindset and mathematics at the middle school level and particularly growth mindset with open-ended problems. This study explored middle school students’ mindsets before and after a four-week Saturday program that incorporated open-ended problems. We also looked at the quality of solutions developed by the students. It was found that the students generally had growth mindsets with some fixed ideas at the beginning of the study that improved to strong growth mindsets at the conclusion of the four weeks. The students also improved on their quality of solutions from the first to the last open- ended activity. Implications for the implementation and research of open-ended problems are discussed.


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