More than just Numbers: How do we embed a growth mindset into Maths?

Wednesday 10 Aug 2022

At Living Faith, our Maths program is built on a foundation in neuroscience and educational psychology. We incorporate the research of Mathematics Professor Jo Boaler and Psychologist Carol Dweck from Stanford University, into a program we have designed to promote a positive and creative mindset towards Maths.

We teach Mindset Maths based on three key points from the research:

  • The brain learns from mistakes;
  • The brain is capable of adapting, growing and forming new connections (thus there is no such thing as a Maths brain); and
  • The brain makes better connections with engagement, a growth mindset and when the purpose is clear.
What does this framework aim to develop?
  • Growth Mindset: recognise mistakes are the stepping stones to success;
  • Creativity: learn there are many ways to solve a problem;
  • Depth: appreciate that success in Maths is about deep thinking not speed;
  • Resilience: learn to love a challenge;
  • Collaboration: work together to solve problems;
  • Communication: equip students with mathematical vocabulary and the ability to verbalise their thinking; and
  • Positivity: recognise that everyone is capable of growth in Maths.

To do this we follow a sequence of key phases every time we teach a new concept.

Number talks

Several times a week students engage in number talks where problems are solved as part of a whole group discussion. Students are invited to talk through their thinking and share the different ways they went about solving a problem. This method encourages students to recognise that there are many different ways that problems can be solved. It also builds mathematical vocabulary and students' ability to verbalise their thinking.

Pre and Post Quizzes

At the beginning of a Maths gateway (concept), we conduct a short quiz, which we then repeat at the end of the gateway so that students can see their growth and build self-confidence.

Collaborative (grapple) tasks

At the beginning of a gateway, students undertake a collaborative (grapple) task, based on concepts that we are about to teach. Students work in small teams to solve problems and grapple with concepts that will be similar to their independent tasks. We have found that students can make better connections during explicit teaching after completing the collaborative task because they can see the purpose of what they are learning. Students present the different ways they went about solving the task to their peers.

Explicit teaching

The explicit teaching phase can last for several days or several weeks depending on the Maths concepts being taught. This is a key learning time, where new concepts are explored. We do this by engaging in a range of different learning experiences to maximise engagement.

Independent (assessment) Tasks

At the end of the gateway, students will undertake an independent task similar to their collaborative task. This forms the basis of their assessment for the gateway and will be marked using success criteria. Independent tasks are open-ended and allow students to demonstrate their understanding and apply it.

Mindset Maths is all about building students' growth mindset so that they will persevere and have a positive approach to tasks so that they can experience success in Mathematics.

- Bianca Ravi, Director of Learning