• Users Online: 218
  • Print this page
  • Email this page


 
 
Table of Contents
SHORT REPORT
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 33-35

Exploring veterinary medical students' mindset about intelligence, personality, attitude, and skills and abilities


Department of Clinical Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC, USA

Date of Submission26-Nov-2019
Date of Acceptance03-Feb-2020
Date of Web Publication13-Mar-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Kenneth Royal
1060 William Moore Dr., Raleigh 27607, NC
USA
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/EHP.EHP_33_19

Rights and Permissions
  Abstract 


Background: In recent decades, the topic of mindset has gained considerable attention in the education arena. According to Dweck, people hold beliefs about their personal traits that can be classified into one of the two beliefs: fixed and growth mindsets. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their traits cannot be changed. Individuals with a growth mindset believe that their traits can be cultivated over time and enhanced through effort. The purpose of this study was to explore the mindset of veterinary medical students as it pertains to traits such as intelligence, personality, attitude, and skills and abilities. Methods: Using a cross-sectional survey design, 298 veterinary medical students were enrolled in the study. Results: The overwhelming majority of the students believed that skills and abilities could be cultivated and improved over time. However, a considerable proportion of students believed that attitude, intelligence, and personality were largely fixed traits. Conclusions: Implications for mindset have far-reaching effects, including resilience, grit, motivations, and more.

Keywords: Attitude, intelligence, mental measurement, mindset, personality, traits


How to cite this article:
Royal K. Exploring veterinary medical students' mindset about intelligence, personality, attitude, and skills and abilities. Educ Health Prof 2020;3:33-5

How to cite this URL:
Royal K. Exploring veterinary medical students' mindset about intelligence, personality, attitude, and skills and abilities. Educ Health Prof [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Apr 9];3:33-5. Available from: http://www.ehpjournal.com/text.asp?2020/3/1/33/280543




  Introduction Top


In recent decades, the topic of mindset has gained considerable attention in the education arena. According to Dweck,[1] people hold beliefs about their personal traits that can be classified into one of the two beliefs: fixed and growth mindsets. Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their traits cannot be changed. Individuals with a growth mindset believe that their traits can be cultivated over time and enhanced through effort. Dweck also notes that one's mindset can have profound consequences on an individual's life. In fact, more than 40 years of research has consistently shown that individuals with a growth mindset tend to be more successful in virtually all areas of life.[1] Thus, the purpose of this study was to explore mindsets among a cross-section of veterinary medical student cohorts.


  Methods Top


A cross-sectional design was implemented on 2nd-year, 3rd-year, and 4th-year Doctor of Veterinary Medicine program students at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine. A set of common items were included as part of three separate end-of-year programmatic assessments, in which students provided perspectives about a host of curricular and educational issues (e.g., learning environment, support systems, career plans, etc.). Although each survey was anonymous and completion of the items was voluntary, all the 298 students completed the items, resulting in a 100% response rate. With respect to gender, 75 (76.5%) 4th-year students, 78 (78.0%) 3rd-year students, and 84 (84.8%) 2nd-year students were identified as female. Approximately 70%–75% of each cohort were also identified as White. The study was approved by the university's institutional review board.

Students were asked to indicate their mindset perspective with respect to four constructs: intelligence, personality, skills and abilities, and attitude. Specifically, students were presented the following prompt:

A mindset refers to one's beliefs about yourself and your most basic qualities. Growth mindset research has suggested that most people have one of the two perspectives about most of their basic traits: fixed versus growth. A fixed mindset indicates that one believes that their traits are largely unchangeable and cannot be changed much. A growth mindset indicates that one believes that their traits can be cultivated throughout their life. With this in mind, please indicate the mindset that best describes how you feel about each of the following traits (1 = fixed; 2 = growth; and 3 = unsure).


  Results Top


With respect to intelligence, most students indicated that they held a growth mindset (49%–65.3%) compared to fewer students that indicated they held a fixed mindset (19.4%–29.0%). With respect to personality, most students found the trait fixed (49.0%–53.5%), whereas fewer students found the trait malleable (28.0%–31.6%). Regarding skills and abilities, most students indicated a growth mindset (79.0%–86.9%) as opposed to a fixed one (5.0%–6.1%). Finally, with respect to attitude, most students indicated a growth mindset (51.0%–54.5%) compared to a fixed mindset (21.0%–29.6%). A complete breakdown of results is available in [Table 1].
Table 1: Counts and percentage of mindset items

Click here to view



  Discussion Top


Although it was assuring that the overwhelming majority of students felt that skills and abilities could be cultivated and improved over time, it was a bit concerning that students reported relatively high rates of fixed mindsets as it pertained to attitude, intelligence, and personality. Interestingly, a number of students also indicated uncertainty about intelligence, personality, and attitude, thus potentially indicating a worldview that is likely to contain, at minimum, elements of a fixed mindset.

Implications for fixed versus growth mindsets among veterinary medical students are quite profound. Extant literature in other fields has noted that persons with a fixed mindset tend to be less resilient and more prone to stress and unhealthy pursuits of perfection.[2],[3] The veterinary education literature has noted that students often pursue academic perfection, which, in turn, results in overwhelming stress that often leads to personal and academic woes (e.g., mental health issues and suicidal ideation).[4] Thus, it seems plausible that students with a fixed mindset may be at greater risk as it pertains to their mental and emotional well-being.

Individuals with a growth mindset, however, are more likely to welcome challenges, be receptive to critical feedback, learn from mistakes, and persevere when confronted with struggles.[1] Further, people with a growth mindset believe that effort is key to mastery and with a commitment to hard work, growth and improvement will occur.[1] In the context of veterinary medical training, learners routinely face difficult physical, emotional, and ethical challenges, are provided critical feedback by instructors, and must persevere through a rigorous curriculum focusing on multiple species in order to succeed. Thus, it seems plausible that students with a growth mindset may be better equipped to handle the challenges of a rigorous veterinary medical training program.

Research has noted, however, that educators have the ability to change students' mindsets.[5] By directly acknowledging that each person has traits that are malleable and can be improved, educators can confront and potentially alter students' beliefs that they cannot grow or change. In much the same way that Mueller and Dweck's research[6] that found praising students' effort as opposed to their abilities promoted persistence, especially when confronted with setbacks; there are ways in which medical educators can similarly emphasize processes over products. For example, assessment practices that reward effort (e.g., mastery learning techniques and pre- and post-tests) and grading approaches such as differentiated grading[7] may reinforce students the value of overcoming initial failures and demonstrate that growth can occur with practice, repetition, and effort.


  Conclusions Top


An individual's mindset can have profound consequences on his/her life. This study sought to determine the mindset of veterinary medical students as it pertained to implicit views about intelligence, personality, skills and abilities, and attitude. Results indicate that most students hold a growth mindset about intelligence, attitude, and skills and abilities. However, a considerable proportion of students (approximately 20%–30%) also held fixed mindsets about intelligence and attitude. What's more, approximately 15%–30% also were unsure, indicating a worldview that likely contains at minimum some elements of a fixed mindset. Finally, most students believed personality was largely a fixed trait. These findings have important implications as it relates to students' resilience, grit, motivations, and more.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Dweck CS. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House; 2006.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Levitin DJ. The Organized Mind. New York: Plume; 2014.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Chan DW. Life satisfaction, happiness, and the growth mindset of healthy and unhealthy perfectionists among Hong Kong Chinese gifted students. Roeper Rev 2012;34:224-33.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Hafen M Jr., Ratcliffe GC, Rush BR. Veterinary medical student well-being: Depression, stress, and personal relationships. J Vet Med Educ 2013;40:296-302.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Rattan A, Good C, Dweck CS. It's ok-Not everyone can be good at math: Instructors with an entity theory comfort (and demotivate) students. J Exp Soc Psychol 2012;48:731-7.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Mueller CM, Dweck CS. Praise for intelligence can undermine children's motivation and performance. J Pers Soc Psychol 1998;75:33-52.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Royal KD, Guskey TR. A case for differentiated grades. Med Sci Educ 2015;25:323-5.  Back to cited text no. 7
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1]



 

Top
 
  Search
 
    Similar in PUBMED
   Search Pubmed for
   Search in Google Scholar for
 Related articles
    Access Statistics
    Email Alert *
    Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

 
  In this article
Abstract
Introduction
Methods
Results
Discussion
Conclusions
References
Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    Viewed104    
    Printed3    
    Emailed0    
    PDF Downloaded16    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal