Some students struggle in school, but there are ways to help them overcome academic challenges.
Whether they are challenged in math, English, science, or history, the result is similar. The notion that they aren’t good at something leads them to believe they just didn’t have what it takes to get through it.
Sadly, struggling students often give up, believing they just aren’t good at school.
Many people are familiar with the term “growth mindset,” popularized by Carol Dweck. Her research found that people who believe they can develop their talents through effort, strategy, and guidance have a growth mindset. They tend to have better outcomes than people with a fixed mindset, who think talent is an innate gift.
The growth mindset is based on the understanding that the brain is like a muscle, and that effort, or perseverance, helps that muscle develop.
Everyone learns from mistakes and failures, creating more resilient brains.
But effort alone is not enough to help struggling students. They need learning strategies, also called “struggle strategies,” when they face academic challenges.
Effort without struggle strategies rarely translates to learning: Over time, students will devalue their effort because they won’t see benefits from those attempts.
In order to avoid emphasizing effort over concrete learning techniques, researchers have identified a number of practical strategies to help students learn when they struggle.
When students are equipped with concrete skills for tackling challenges, it helps boost their motivation for future tasks. And helping students to understand that effort improves their brains provides another powerful motivation.
Every day, we are learning more about how to help students build on their inner strengths and motivations. Struggle strategies are another Youth Development tool that can be used to help all students succeed in school, life, and communities.