Ever wonder how having a growth mindset impacts participation in STEM fields such as game design and coding? Zulama game designers met with growth mindset experts in a google hangout to find out. 

Zulama provides middle and high school computer science curriculum that develops programming skills through fun game design projects. Effective modern learning techniques, like metacognitive development, student-centered classrooms, and growth mindset, are at the core of the Pittsburgh-based company. Last month, Nikki Navta, Founder and CEO of Zulama, spoke with Mindset Works' own Janna Peskett and Anthony Colannino about strategies for encouraging growth mindset in the classroom. Listen to the podcast here. Watch the broadcast video here.

Nikki, Janna, and Anthony begin the conversation by establishing a shared definition of growth mindset: "an understanding that wherever you are right now, you can always improve." They offer personal stories of shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. Then they tackle the importance of embracing failure.

As Nikki points out, Zulama curriculum helps students redefine failure by emphasizing that mistakes are an integral part of the iterative game design process. Zulama students build game prototypes, playtest them, receive feedback, and iterate. They repeat this cycle many times on their journey to creating a highly engaging and playable game. Anthony concurs that failing is a valuable and inherent part of learning and growing. When children are learning to walk, he notes, they often fall. Falling does not lead children to give up! Instead, their setback emboldens children to continue to practice until they learn to walk. In Janna's words, "failure is only failure when we fail to learn from it."

Janna, Anthony, and Nikki also discuss practical strategies that teachers can use to bring growth mindset into their classrooms. Anthony suggests that building strong, trust-based student-teacher relationships is an important first step. There must be a two-way feedback loop, he argues, where students and teachers can speak openly to one another. He describes the significance of giving feedback about the student's process, effort, and strategies, rather than emphasizing the importance of the final product. Mindset Works provides a free Feedback Tool that offers various prompt such as, "Mistakes are welcome here" and "Here are some strategies for you to figure this out." Janna also shares one of her favorite ways to help students develop a growth mindset -- encouraging them to retake tests so that they learn from their mistakes.

Ultimately, Anthony suggests that growth mindset can be more than a practice. At best, it is a culture. When a school or classroom culture values embracing and learning from failure as a way to manage challenges, growth mindset is sure to flourish.

Zulama Eduaction InnovationLearn more about Zulama game design and computer science courses here.