The influences of curriculum area and student background on mindset to learning in the veterinary curriculum: a pilot study

Armitage-Chan, E and Maddison, J E (2019) The influences of curriculum area and student background on mindset to learning in the veterinary curriculum: a pilot study. Veterinary Medicine and Science.

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Abstract

A student's mindset influences their achievement and response to challenge, with a ‘fixed mindset’ encouraging disengagement from challenging tasks and avoidance of learning and feedback opportunities. These behaviours resemble those reported for professional and non‐clinical curriculum areas, which are important for employability and resilience in veterinary practice. Students with a ‘growth mindset’ to learning are more persistent when faced with challenges and actively seek more demanding tasks. They also demonstrate higher levels of psychological well‐being. The objectives of this study were to explore whether variation in veterinary students’ mindset to learning exists across different curriculum areas, and to identify whether students’ backgrounds influence their learning mindset. The mindsets of veterinary students at a UK veterinary school were measured using an adapted version of the Implicit Theories of Intelligence Scale. The survey was constructed to compare mindset in clinical reasoning, professional reasoning (incorporating ethics and critical thinking), communication skills and reflection. More students demonstrated a growth mindset to communication skills (59%), reflection (84%) and clinical reasoning (83%) than to professional reasoning (34%). There were more students with a fixed mindset to professional reasoning (10%) than in other areas (0–5%). Students’ background (international or non‐traditional university access) did not appear to influence mindset to learning. Disengagement from professional studies curricula may be a consequence of students lacking a growth mindset in professional reasoning. Curriculum interventions that encourage engagement and the development of a growth mindset to learning non‐clinical competences may be beneficial.

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