Skills, challenges, effort, feedback, and setbacks: The role of the deaf educator in shaping student mindsets

The purpose of this study was to examine the types of mindsets, or intelligence theories, that Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students generally exhibit. Deafness is a low-incidence disability, affecting less than 1% of the population (Woolsey, Harrison, & Gardner, 2004). Additionally, over 90% of DHH children are born to hearing parents who do not use American Sign Language (ASL) in the home (Early Intervention for Infants and Toddlers, n. d.). Deaf and hard of hearing students are impacted throughout their schooling, in part due to frequent language access barriers. Therefore, this ethnographic, mixed methods, case-study examined teacher perceptions of DHH student responses to skills, challenges, effort, feedback, and setbacks (Dweck, 2006) in order to surmise the types of mindsets DHH students generally display. Through this lens, it was determined that in most cases DHH students exhibited characteristics of fixed mindsets. Deaf and hard of hearing students throughout this study generally perceived skills as innate, challenges as impeding, and effort as arbitrary. Students in this study often took feedback personally, and let setbacks define them.