IB DP, Inquiry and the Growth Mindset

I just finished a great PD session led by our High School Principal and Vice Principals about the Growth Mindset and how we can make it the foundation of our approach to learning. There were a lot of great background resources shared including this video which sums up the effect of praise on the development of student’s mindset.

As we split up to examine how the growth mindset would impact all areas of our school from assessment to school culture and proceeded to feedback what the groups discussed, an interesting comment was made to the effect of:

Inquiry, to support the Growth Mindset is a great instructional strategy, but it takes a lot of time. We need to make a choice between covering the content necessary for the IGCSE and IB DP exams or inquiry-based teaching.

Now, this strikes me as interesting. Are we saying that in order to “cover the material” we’d be willing to sacrifice what we know is a teaching method that better supports student learning?

I actually think this is a false dichotomy. You can should teach in a way that supports the Growth Mindset and doing so doesn’t have to mean all inquiry, all the time. I also think that you can effective teach an IB DP subject without being a slave to “coverage.” The key to doing so is being very strategic about who in your class needs what level of support on the items on the syllabus and delivering that both in class and via good inquiry-based homework tasks that the students can actually use to learn content on their own.

I want to hear from you.  Are you teaching DP and using inquiry? Are you personalising learning instead of serving up the same meal of content to everyone whether they need it or not? What are some good diagnostic tools that you use to know what they actually can do already? Is this a crazy idea or can it actually work?

About jplaman

Jeffrey Plaman is in Singapore where he's a Digital Literacy Coach at United World College of South East Asia. He is an Apple Distinguished Educator with a special interest in blended learning and the human technology relationship.
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4 Responses to IB DP, Inquiry and the Growth Mindset

  1. Tim says:

    I’m basically somewhere between you and Paul I think (Paul’s website is awesome, by the way –just checked it out). I sometimes/sort of wish I was doing more of an inquiry approach, but I find myself these days going in almost the opposite direction. I came across some research a while ago http://bit.ly/1uLQkvj that’s convinced me to take more of a sort of knowledge-mastery approach. Basically, I’m spending a lot of time checking for understanding and reteaching a lot. We have great conversations and it’s working for my students (test-scores-wise) really well, but it can get quite routine.

    I often think it’s the assessments that drive things so much. If we could all agree to have a different type of exams (IB), where students had to quickly do a consulting project or something, then I would feel a lot more comfortable to ‘cover the content’ in a way that was more appropriate to that. With the assessments as they stand, I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I care about them as people and support them holistically, but I mostly train them for their assessments. That said, I’d be very much support a radical change to how we assess. I think summative assessments are to teacher practice what leadership is to culture. The relationships are causal.

  2. Paul says:

    Its an interesting question; I have recently been looking at the Growth Mindset and it makes a lot of sense to me. I teach both the MYP and DP and find that within the MYP it tends to be easier to implement these practices. The emphasis on exams within my DP subject (history) means a lot of the time the approach can be quite strongly driven by ‘getting through the content’.

    However, I am consciously trying to move away from that approach. Recently I created a lesson where the classroom was effectively turned into a museum with sources scattered around the room. The students were given a question sheet and had to go around the ‘exhibits’ and study the sources (different types e.g. primary docs, historians’ views, photos, artwork etc). The resource link is here for the particular lesson is here – http://www.alleycathistory.com/1/post/2013/11/why-was-china-known-as-the-sick-man-of-asia-activity-using-images.html

    It didn’t take long to set up but had a really positive impact upon their level of engagement, questioning and understanding. I need to remind myself to create more of these approaches within Diploma teaching to make the course more enjoyable for the students.


  3. The IB Learner Profile is still a part of DP. We can’t forget that as DP practitioners. At the end of the two years, it is more important to me to have life-long-readers, students who want to engage with writing…than to have 6’s and 7’s. Big picture. Develop students capable of inquiry, and they will be healthier happier folks.

  4. bward says:

    This problem is not unique to IB. Any science teacher is presented with the challenge of the process, content balance. Unfortunately, my district just had an entire school effort to read Focus by Schmoker http://www.mikeschmoker.com which was all about content and testing and very little about creativity and inquiry. Are these organizations desiring future encyclopedias ready for trivia games or future problem solvers with basic knowledge and the ability to find relevant information on an as needed basis.

    Sorry, no solution here, just frustration with the “powers” that dictate these curricula.

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