Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Holistic Scoring Strategies

Streamed Session

Brief Abstract

Targeted feedback and holistic scoring are two of the most effective approaches for building a growth mindset culture among students. Join this session to dive into a case study on student persistence and explore a set of feedback strategies and holistic scoring methods that can be implemented across any discipline.

Extended Abstract

The importance of fostering lifelong 21st-century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, and self-regulation has been increasingly embraced as a core component of teaching and learning. Developing students’ 21st-century skills is crucial for ensuring career readiness and civic responsibility (Hora 2017). Going beyond passive intake of course content into impactful, long-lasting learning requires a personalized, innovative approach to skill development. Assisting students in developing a growth mindset in their learning is one of the key strategies for preparing them for their future professional success (Dweck, 2006). Growth mindset culture is based on emphasizing learning progress, rather than rigid evaluation methods. In order to successfully cultivate a growth mindset culture, educators should develop their courses in accordance with principles such as:

  1. Be intentional. Fostering lifelong skills that are not directly related to the course content requires educators to select a specific area of focus and provide detailed feedback related to said area.

  2. Assess for growth. Developing a growth mindset necessitates assessment approaches that go beyond a single, fixed score and reflect the individual student progress and performance. Allowing for resubmissions, implementing tasks with components built over time, and offering peer review opportunities are highly effective in driving growth-oriented assessment.

  3. Think long term. To foster lasting engagement and success, courses should be design with students’ growth trajectories in mind. Developing skills progressively and exponentially weighing the assignments over the span of the course can help solidify key takeaways.

Each of these principles, especially the second one, can be effectively implemented with the help of holistic scoring. Holistic scoring is an assessment strategy that focuses on student performance as a whole, taking into account soft skills proficiency, progress, and individual goals (Johnson & Branham 2018). The mindset of holistic scoring involves establishing a grading policy that reflects growth. Therefore, the course grade must represent the highest performance level the student obtained, rather than an aggregation of grades taken at fixed points during the term.


This session will showcase a set of best holistic scoring practices and assessment strategies identified based on the results of a case study investigating program changes designed to influence student mindset, self-efficacy, and persistence. The participants will be able to share their experiences with holistic grading and shape the course of the presentation and the content shown. In addition to exploring holistic scoring methods, the participants will learn about building effective, growth-oriented rubrics based on classroom-proof examples. Finally, the session will highlight a specific use case related to transforming an assignment in accordance with best holistic scoring practices.



Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House.

Hora, M.T. (2017). Beyond the skills gap. In NACE Journal.

Johnson, R., & Branham, M. (2018). Holistic scoring. In B. Frey (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of educational research, measurement, and evaluation (pp. 789-790). SAGE Publications, Inc.,