Mindset and Motivation: The Impact on Student Success

Concurrent Session 3
Equity and Inclusion

Brief Abstract

What would it feel like to have someone believe in you, to believe in yourself, and envision what you can become? A student’s mindset along with motivation can be the key to their success. Find out how Mindset and Motivation affects student success, fosters equity, increases communication, and helps retention.


Dr. Jones is an adjunct faculty instructor at American InterContinental University teaching Foundations for Career Success, and an adjunct professor at Trevecca Nazarene University teaching Speech Communication, Conflict Management and Negotiation, and Human Relations in Organizations. She graduated with her BA in Communication/Public Relations, Minor in Studio Art and MA in Corporate Communication from Austin Peay State University, and a Doctorate in Education; Leadership and Professional Practice from Trevecca Nazarene University. Her dissertation, 'Mindfulness, Motivation, and Mindset: The Effects of Positive Language on Students With Deficiencies Success' study focused on students entering the university with a math deficiency and how being present in the classroom, motivation using positive language, and growth mindset could help students' success. In addition to teaching she has an education and career consulting business. Dr. Jones lives in Clarksville, TN and has lived in TN for 22 years. She is originally from Southern CA.

Extended Abstract

Mindset and Motivation: The Impact on Student Success is a topic not often explored even though it can have a great institutional impact as well. Understanding what a growth mindset looks like and then transferring that mindset to your students will increase their self-awareness and understanding that failure is just a steppingstone to success. When a student understands that a failed attempt at something is not the end, but the beginning it changes how they view trying something new. Through failed attempts we learn what works and what does not and can then try again with that knowledge. Throughout history, many of our great inventors and artists failed repeatedly before they were successful. It was their mindset that made the difference and allowed them to persevere.

In the online learning environment, we have a wonderful mix of students. We have traditional, non-traditional, first generation, international, and returning students. Students need to be taught that effort is good, mastery takes time and failed attempts to achieve, and that an “I can” mindset are essential when pursuing educational goals especially in an online platform. Technology can be daunting for a student who has never used much technology prior to attending school. When a student adopts a positive mindset and is motivated through coaching and encouragement, learning new computer applications and software becomes less overwhelming. Once a student becomes accustomed to the technology necessary, then the process of learning will begin.

When you couple mindset with motivation, then you promote the adoption of a growth mindset and encourage the student for their efforts. Using positive language, such as, “I believe in you,” “I know you can do this,” “I see you improving…,” “Great job with…,” and one that has a huge impact, “I am proud of you,” can motivate a student and increase student engagement and productivity. When a faculty member demonstrates interest and investment in a student, it humanizes the instructor and the student, and creates a relationship. When a relationship is created then the lines of communication are open, and students are more likely to ask for help or ask questions. The retention rate increases when we invest in our students, relationships are formed, and they feel connected to the university or college.

In an online environment we often do not have much or any face to face/zoom time with our students. Establishing your presence and humanizing yourself is important for the student’s sense of belonging. Establishing or fostering their growth mindset and then following it up with motivation can help create the sense of belonging or unity. Equity is increased when you instill a growth mindset and provide motivation to students who are often overlooked due to perceived biases of intellect, due to race, ethnicity, or age. Fostering a growth mindset in a student who has never believed in their ability to learn, then following it up with motivation through encouragement can be life changing for that student.

We all have at least one teacher that we remember fondly because that teacher believed in us and encouraged us. We can be that teacher in our students’ lives.

Presentation takeaways:

  • Understanding a fixed mindset versus a growth mindset
  • The effect of self-speak and self-esteem
  • Methods to change a fixed mindset to a growth mindset
  • The power of written communication
  • Positive language impact
  • Motivation through encouragement

Level of Participation:

During the presentation questions will be asked to the audience for examples of situations where students have struggled with an “I can’t” viewpoint. The presenter will facilitate a discussion on what might be done in the future to help turn that viewpoint or mindset around. Discussion will happen asking for examples of positive language that will motivate students as well. A question and answer period will be held at the end with possible role play to demonstrate the effectiveness of a positive mindset combined with motivation.