Evolving student perceptions of mathematical identity: a case study of mindset shift
MacKinder Clyatt, Lori Ann
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This qualitative study documented the perceptions mathematics students at an alternative high school had during a shift in mindset from fixed to growth in a dual credit math course. The purpose of this study was to capture student perceptions of their own mindset shift and how their perceptions of mathematics changed. The conceptual framework used to interpret the findings was grounded in attribution theory. A case study research design bounded the perceptions of the students and the meanings they gave to these experiences. Data were collected and analyzed from multiple sources: participants' responses to writing prompts, focus group interviews, research field notes, and student artifacts. The grounded narrative that revealed itself from the student perspective over the course of this study was one of growing student trust in self and others as well as a deepening of student mathematical identity. It also showed that student perceptions of mathematics can shift in a short period of time (20 weeks) from a position of fear, shame, apprehension, and defeat to willingness, perseverance, joy, and overcoming challenges into a growth mindset. The recorded focus group discussions and various writing prompts captured the students' perceptions of their mindset shift in relationship to learning and deepening their understanding of mathematics. This study documents the power in individuals to shift out of a truncated learning cycle into a mathematical mindset. If the ability of students to shift from a fixed mindset into a growth mindset is dependent upon an educational environment, an educator's striving for a growth mindset becomes an important component.