Formative Assessment and Growth Mindset

There has been a lot of talk recently about Growth Mindset in Mathematics. Much of this has fed off the work of Carol Dweck and recently Dr. Jo Boaler seems to have taken the leading edge of media and leadership.

I have not yet finished Mathematical Mindsets, but this quote from chapter 2 was so important it deserved its own blog post.

“If we believe that we can learn, and that mistakes are valuable, our brains grow to a greater extent when we make a mistake(Boaler, 2015, pg 13).”

While I’ve been engaged in research on formative assessment for several years (first starting my Masters Thesis on it in 2012), in the past few months discussion about the importance of it has really hit the mainstream educational press. The emphasis has finally come around that assessment isn’t evil, and in fact should be frequent with a high degree of feedback. This quote only serves to highlight this fact – it’s ok to give our students a quiz to see what they know even if they might not get 100%. Obviously you wouldn’t give a first grader a calculus quiz – that wouldn’t do anything. But, within the framework of the zone of proximal development and of course this growth mindset research, we can see that to only give our students the chance to get 100% is to shortchange their learning.

*Please note these are ideas as they come, I actually haven’t seen much correlation in Dr. Boaler’s book about the role of formative assessment; I’m just writing within my subject knowledge and finding connections!

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