The Learning Mindset is an initiative to help students develop the habits of the Learning Mindset, in particular by implementing a Learning Journal. The project is implemented at Leiden University College in the Netherlands and supported financially by the NWO through a Comenius Fellowship. You can read more about what the Learning Mindset means and how the Learning Journal works elsewhere on the site – but before you do that, scroll down to meet and learn more about the LM team!
Hi! My name is David, born and raised in the Netherlands but an Africanist political scientist by training. A lot of my research has been focused on politics and governance in Nigeria, and one of the things that I have loved most about it is that it allows me to learn about this fascinating place at the southern edge of the Sahara desert. I am a big believer in learning, not just as a way to get a better job or bigger salary, but as something that, in its own right, helps people find fulfillment in their lives. Yet even in a context designed to facilitate such learning – a Liberal Arts college – students (and professors) often approach learning as an obligation, something that is hard but that they have to do for some instrumental purpose. The Learning Mindset, to me, is an attempt to help people get better at my ideal of learning: an exciting and fulfilling process of expanding your mind.
Hi! I am Caroline, a Canadian from Montréal, an anthropologist working in development, and a teacher at LUC. Why do I think the Learning Mindset is important? 13 years ago (ouch, I feel old) I had a group of students with me in Kenya. We spent 5 hours under the scorching sun listening to a group of elder Maasai explain their herding strategies. Each sentence had to be translated from Maa into English for the benefit of the students. It was slow and hot. At the end of the session one of my students came up to me and said: “You could have just taught us all that in 15 minutes!” I was floored. He was right, of course, I could have just told him what I have learned from dozens and dozens of, admittedly, often painstaking conversations. But had I done that, he wouldn’t have learned a thing. Learning takes time, patience, reflection, processing. Are we making time for it in our fast-paced lives of instantaneous information?
Hi! I’m Alina and I’m from Vienna, Austria. I will (hopefully) finish my BSc in Governance, Economics and Development in 2022. In Block 1 of my second year, I took the course “Coming of Age in Africa” with Caroline where she introduced the Learning Journal. At the start I found it annoying. But then, the journal made me reflect for the first time on what I wanted to learn and take away from a class, rather than just stressing about getting good grades. Also, I’m terrible at organising and structuring my life and the journal is helping me with that. That’s why I joined this wonderful team. Currently, I’m most involved with the student supporter team. Fun fact: I am convinced in another life I was an otter because they are super playful, bubbly and always around others.
Daniela van den Brink
Hi! I’m Daniela and I’m Dutch/German/Indian. I will be graduating in 2022 with a BSc in Governance, Economics and Development. I was inspired to join the team because I felt that in university there was too much focus on the ends (securing a high GPA, getting consecutive As, receiving flattery feedback) and not enough on the means (synthesising lessons, processing constructive feedback, and deliberately practicing to improve). I am especially interested in design so I’ve had the pleasure of creating a lot of content for this project! If I could have dinner with any person dead/alive, I’d want to share a meal of Nandos peri-peri chicken with Trevor Noah.
Hi! I’m Iris and I’m Dutch – from the beautiful city of Deventer! I graduated in January 2021 with a BSc in Governance, Economics and Development. I joined the team because I felt like there was more to gain from my experience at LUC and wanted to help others achieve this too. I was always frustrated by the strong focus on grades rather than personal development. I enjoy organising things so I was involved with planning and executing the LM workshops and researching feedback literacy to relate the project to relevant academic literature. If I could travel back in time to see one event, I would either go to a Nirvana concert or figure out who assassinated President Kennedy (but if I had to pick, let’s be honest: I would probably go see the concert…).
Hi! I’m Maiya and I’m from Canada but I’ve lived overseas my whole life. I am part of the graduating class of 2022 with a major in Global Public Health. I wanted to join this team because I’ve always had an interest in how people learn and different techniques that can facilitate this process. I also feel like university in general is usually focused solely on grades and wanted to be a part of trying to shift that focus. I was mostly involved in the synthesis and analysis of data the team collected. When I was a kid I was convinced I’d be an Olympic figure skater even though I grew up in tropical places where ice skating was impossible.
Hey, my name is Moritz and I’m German, though I grew up mostly in the United States. I will be graduating this year, 2021, with a BA in World Politics. When I first heard about the Learning Journal, I immediately thought that it would be a great way to shift how we think about assignments: from deadlines to check off from a never-ending to-do list to genuine learning experiences. However, the journal is only one part of the Learning Mindset, which includes setting goals for yourself, reflecting on your intrinsic motivations, and processing feedback – topics I had the pleasure of exploring in workshops that I organised with my fellow team members. A fun fact about me is that when I was younger, I wanted to run away from home and live in the Adirondack Mountains; now, I’m pretty content with walks through the dunes here in the Hague.
Yael Gonzalez Meiler
Hi! I’m Yael and I’m Venezuelan and Spanish. I will be graduating in 2022 with a BSc in Governance, Economics and Development. I became interested in being a part of the Learning Mindset team after having the Learning Journal introduced to me in a class I took and seeing first-hand how much it changed my approach to assignments and learning (for the better). The main reason why I think TLM is an important initiative is the improvement it has had on the quality of the feedback I have received in addition to my usage of it. I was involved a little bit everywhere with the project, from running workshops, to interviewing students and teachers, and overall pushing TLM forward. When I was little, I wanted to be a dolphin when I grew up.