2024 Engineer Magazine


FOR THE LOVE OF STEM: THE POWER OF THE GROWTH MINDSET By DOUG DUNSTON & KELSEY IRIZARRY Sometimes, educators teach their most important content indirectly. Carol Dweck’s research on growth and fixed mindsets emphasizes how critical it is for learners to commit to the idea that their skills and knowledge are not fixed and unchanging but rather can develop and grow with intentional effort. With the benefit of a growth mindset, a middle school girl who has never before imagined what engineering might look like can, via experimentation and persisting through thoughtfully structured, open- ended design challenges, discover new curiosity and self-confidence, inspiring further questioning and exploration. But what makes it possible for this student to dive into inquiries so new to her? The power a teacher’s growth mindset has on students What may be surprising is the extent to which teachers’ own mindsets can be adopted by their students. The Center for Engineering Education (CEE) recognizes that students look to their teachers holistically, as instructors but also as models of how to engage new challenges. So when PK-12 STEM educators develop their own growth mindsets, learning through experience that they can grapple with new, previously unknown or mysterious STEM areas and create coherent, relevant learning opportunities for their students, that ability to confidently try out things one isn’t good at yet becomes a key element of what they are modeling to their students.

Igniting Passion with the Engineering Education Graduate Certificate The CEE takes advantage of a particular intrinsic joy that PK-12 educators share: the joy of learning new things in a supportive, curiosity-rewarding context. Teachers who become students once again in the CEE’s Engineering Education graduate certificate courses experience the transformative potential of prototyping, the interconnections new STEM topics have to areas they have already mastered, and a community of encouraging fellow educators. They discover that a growth mindset can be practiced, modeled and shared.

As educators, we know that the journey is just as important as the destination; the knowledge you gain during the CEE program will last well beyond the terminus of the certificate.


Former CEE student Caroline Little says, “The CEE program completely rekindled my love of STEM! I started the program as a French teacher who ran an engineering cocurricular and ended the program as a middle-school science teacher. Talk about transformational! The classes were challenging and engaging, and the professors ensured that I understood the material thoroughly before moving on. Five years out and I am still sharing what I learned with colleagues and students.

Learn more about the Engineering Graduate Certificate

Page 26 engineering.stthomas.edu

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