Convocation 2008

The following guidelines and recommendations are based on a presentation by Katie Phillips and Randy Lavender titled “Strategies for Teaching Millennial Students.” The presentation introduced concepts and conclusions from current research in educational psychology, including an original study conducted in the Foundation Program at Otis. The guidelines and recommendations offered here reflect the presenters’ shared belief that to teach effectively today we must teach more than the technical content of our courses; we must also teach with an understanding of students’ multiple intelligences, cognitive development, and motivation. In other words, we must teach to the whole student.

From Katie Phillips:

Changing Students’ Mindsets

Having a simple classroom chat with students about new findings related to intelligence and talent often serves to motivate students.

Research shows that talent and intelligence are not fixed at birth, but can be developed and enhanced.

This is good news for any of us who have struggled to learn a new skill. If you persist, you can learn almost anything.

Research also tells us that if you feel that your intelligence or talent is very high you may be less motivated to continue developing your abilities. Often high functioning people are afraid to take risks or work really hard for fear of losing their high status.

Carol Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, suggests that relying too much on innate talent may be stifling.

If you believe that your intelligence or talent is fixed, whether high or low, you have what Dweck calls a “fixed mindset.” If you believe that intelligence or talent can be developed through rising to challenges, working hard, and learning from mistakes you have a “growth mindset.”

People with a growth mindset persevere, are resilient, and motivated. Talking to students openly about their beliefs related to intelligence, talent, and learning can help them become more engaged.


Dweck, C.S. (2007). Boosting Achievement With Messages That Motivate. Education Canada, Vol. 47, No. 2, Spring, 6-10.
Sternberg, R.J. (2004). Wisdom, Intelligence, and Creativity Synthesized. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

From Randy Lavender:

Recommendations for College Art/Design Teachers

Teaching to Enhance Academic Control

As Part of Course Content:

By means of:

Openly discuss LC/PAC in classes

-Including in course syllabi

-Presenting topic early in term

-Soliciting student input

Role model internality for students

-Sharing professional experiences

-Thorough in-class demonstrations

-Disclosing problem-solving processes

Reinforce responsibility-taking

-Teaching responsibility-taking behaviors

-Rewarding successes with grades/credit

-Reviewing responsibility-taking frequently

Support student learning communities

-Structuring curriculum accordingly

-Enrolling students in common courses

-Collaborating with shared faculty

Acknowledge and disarm the effort dilemma

-Explaining the role of effort in success

-Informing students of your awareness

-Crediting efforts that elevate outcomes

Practice pre-critique

-Encouraging strengths prior to grading

-Suggesting reworking prior to grading

-Assessing work prior to grading

Foster students’ problem-finding skills

-Prompting individual responses

-Constraining for student success

-Reinforcing inventiveness/originality