Combining Cognitive Strategies with Growth Mindset Principles for Middle School Students

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Let's Build On What We Know

Why Combine Metacognition with Growth Mindset?

Despite our best intentions, middle school students are slipping through the cracks of our education system through no fault of their own. Reform for the middle grades has often leaned heavily on improving academic performance and left socio-emotional health by the wayside. This course offers a view of combining skills from cognitive learning and principles of growth mindset to nurture the learning ethic of students. Optimal learning for middle school students involves developing personal competence: knowing how to achieve certain results and feeling efficacious in doing so. Support of increased self efficacy in the classroom provides the scaffolding necessary for increased learning, motivation, and the ability to deal effectively with mistakes.


The specific cognitive strategies most effective for middle school students are:

  • focus intently and beat procrastination
  • exert self-discipline even when it doesn't come naturally
  • study actively not passively

The specific growth mindset principles applicable to middle school students are:

  • take ownership over your attitude
  • value the process over the end result
  • view challenges as opportunities

Ideally, a team of teachers would collaboratively work together to connect with middle school students and encourage a safe and supportive community wherein students and teachers understand that academic and emotional growth is necessary for future pursuits.

Unit 1 will provide a more detailed description of the cognitive learning strategies listed above;

Unit 2 will offer specific case studies of middle school students to remind us of their typical attitudes and behaviors;

Unit 3 will then cover how growth mindset principles can be implemented in middle school and provide reflective journal tips to record implementation of strategies of choice

The Mini-Course

Click the title of a unit to go to its page.

Unit 1: Best Cognitive Learning Strategies for Middle School Students

Here is the place to review the temporary benefits of traditional studying methods and the long-term benefits of learning how to learn (metacognition). The cognitive strategies specifically for middle schoolers will also be found in this unit.

Unit 2: Middle School Students Exposed

Case Studies of middle school students are provided in this section as a reminder of typical behaviors and attitudes that these students hold

Unit 3: Growth Mindset Principles that Help

Growth Mindset Principles are shared in this unit; including possible strategies of implementation in the middle school classroom or as part of the curriculum

More Resources

Erkens, C, Schimmer, T & Vagle, N. 2019. Growing Tomorrow's Citizens In Today's Classrooms: Assessing 7 Critical Competencies. Solution Tree Press

Oakley, B and Schewe, O. 2021. Learn Like A Pro: Science Based Tools to Become Better at Anything. St. Martin's Essentials

Cohen, J. 1999. Educating Minds and Hearts: Social Emotional Learning and the Passage into Adolescence. Teachers College Press