Mindset or Set Shot?
Many students dream of becoming a physician. Yet, once students arrive on campus and settle into their classes, many realize they aren’t quite pre- pared for the higher level of work and, worse still, don’t commit to working hard enough to get past that obstacle.
When students struggle, they may decide that they’re not cut out for medical school, that it’s too hard, they’re not smart enough, or any of a myriad of other reasons to explain why they’re struggling and simply give up.
Interestingly enough, this same student that struggles in biochemistry, may also struggle at basketball, but he keeps calling for the ball to be passed his way on the court so he can keep trying even when he struggles.
What’s the difference between this student on the court versus in the classroom?
What’s wrong is the ‘mindset’ that the student has on the basketball court is different than the ‘mindset’ in the classroom. Our basketball player knows that he has to practice to improve. He spends hours on the basketball court missing shot after shot, dribbling off his foot and double-dribbling for hours. Amazingly he doesn’t give up. Over time he starts making free throws and corner shots; he still misses, but he starts making shots too. Making shots leads to more enthusiastic practice. And soon enough his foot becomes less of an obstacle to his dribbling, and he dribbles less-and-less looking down at the ball. Sure enough, with enough time, he’s actually chosen to play when teams are divided. He’s gotten pretty good.
The Growth Mindset
That willingness to practice, miss and try again is the growth mindset. He knows practicing will help him get better and he spends hours practicing and getting better. The proof is in the shots he’s making that he used to miss.
Meanwhile back in the pharmacology or physiology classroom, our basketball player gets frustrated when he doesn’t understand the vocabulary and figures he’s just no good at medical school.
So rather than study the classwork, he kind of reads his textbook once, then his class notes quickly, and he hopes for the best come the exam. Or worse still, he waits to study until a day or two before the test and then is shocked when his score is less than passing. His poor test performance just confirms what he thinks he knows about himself already – “I’m just not cut out for medical school.”
This is the fixed mindset – the idea that ‘I was born this way and I never got better.’ It’s the mindset that allows us to fail repeatedly and not take responsibility for our failure. After all, ‘I was born this way and I never got better.’
How Can I Get the Growth Mindset?
To succeed in college, students need to approach classes like the basketball player and practice. Adopt a growth mindset. By putting in the time to read the chapter and take notes, study, practice, form study groups and discuss classwork, success will gradually build. The failing quiz scores will become barely passing quiz scores and over time they will result in B’s and A’s. More amazing still, instead of homework being work, it becomes interesting and enjoyable. Academic success is merely a matter of mindset – growth mindset. When studying is viewed as a skill that needs to be practiced, improvement will come.
According to the Basketball-Reference website, Steph Curry’s highest shooting percentage for three-point shots was in the 2011-12 season. He shot .455%. That’s less than half the three- point shots he took falling through the hoop, yet he’s celebrated as one of the very best basketball players in the NBA. Highlight reels show him dribbling around defenders every time he plays. He wasn’t born that way. He practiced! That’s growth mindset at work. That same approach will make students successful in school too.
The question is… What kind of mindset do you bring to medical school?
This blog was originally provided by Danny Wyatt for the DDFT program in Micronesia, but I felt it had real application to medical students here at UHSA as well. Danny is an internationally recognized study skills specialist and consultant who is based at the University of Hawai`i Leeward Community College that I have worked with for many years. Danny is well known for his work in higher education throughout the Pacific area, including working with medical students to overcome obstacles to success.
Live Your Dream: Become a Doctor!
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Traditional MD Program – for those who have the premedical requirements, and want to attend the second oldest medical school in the Caribbean, our traditional MD program is right for you.
Combined MD/MPH Program – for those who want to enhance their credentials and earn a masters of public health at the same time, this program is right for you.
Accelerated Premedical Program – for those who do not have the required premedical credits, this program will get you the credits you need to enter our MD program directly.
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