Facilitating learners’ coping skills and strategies are part of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) strategy to foster engagement and support learner self-regulation. In the CAST UDL framework, Checkpoint 9.2, encourages educators to facilitate learners’ personal coping skills and strategies.
CAST Checkpoint 9.2 suggests educators provide differentiated models, scaffolds and feedback for:
- Managing frustration
- Seeking external emotional support
- Developing internal controls and coping skills
- Using real-life situations or simulations to demonstrate coping skills, and
- Appropriately considering judgments of “natural” aptitude (e.g., “how can I improve on the areas I am struggling in?” rather than “I am not good at …”)
This final point aligns closely with developing a ‘growth mindset. ‘Growth mindset’ is a phrase used ubiquitously in schools and universities. It is based on the work by Standford academic, Carol Dweck. A growth mindset is that which is open to developing talents. Effective strategies, smart and hard work and support from others are valued. Dweck’s work suggests that a growth mindset supports learners (and employees) to achieve more than those who believe their talents are innate. This is called a fixed mindset. Dweck suggests this is due to people with a growth mindset being less concerned with looking smart, rather, diverting that energy into learning.
In her Education Week article, Dweck provides specific examples of language educators use to promote a growth mindset. Examples include:
- Adding ‘yet’ to the end of a statement concerned with something you are not currently achieving. An example is, “I cannot play this piano piece yet.”
- Saying words of encouragement along the lines of, “That feeling of that activity being challenging is the feeling of your brain growing,” or
- “It is not expected you will get this all straight away. Let’s just work on the next step,” or
- “Learning how to do this problem/activity/strategy grows your brain.”
For students and their teachers
Just as this feedback can be given to our students, so too can educators use it in in their own teaching and learning. A reflective activity is to analyse how you react or respond to, for example, challenges in the day. Are you interested in learning from feedback from students, or is it frustrating? When the learning experience is not going as planned, do you feel exasperated or curious as to how to change it for next time? Dweck encourages educators to, ‘Accept those thoughts and feelings and work with and through them. And keep working with and through them.’
Find other practical, easy-to-implement strategies for incorporating UDL strategies into learning engagements on the CUDA website.