Habits of Mind in Graduate School

Fall break has finally arrived here at Millersville, providing students and faculty with an opportunity to relax. Although short in length, this break can be utilized to reflect on both the past and future of the semester. This timing of this break provides a unique opportunity to acknowledge the different aspects of our academic selves, and how we can enhance our learning journey. One way to do this is by looking back on the habits of mind, which are the different “ways of approaching learning that are both intellectual and practical.” By reflecting on these different habits, one can see how an awareness of them can positively effect the various areas of academia.

The habits of mind include curiosity, openness, engagement, creativity, persistence, responsibility, flexibility, and metacognition. Out of each of these habits, I would like to focus my writing on those that are most applicable to grad school. Persistence is what stands out to me most, as it is defined as “the ability to sustain interest in and attention to short- and long-term projects.” Graduate students need to be full of persistence, as many of us are working along with learning. The different projects and assignments that are given in various classes may seem intimidating- ten-page papers, multiple academic sources, and presenting in front of peers can all be daunting tasks. However, by fostering the habit of persistence, students can adapt and excel in these different tasks, along with reducing the anxiety that surrounds them. Along with persistence, the habit of responsibility is another attribute that is incredibly relevant in graduate school. Defined in Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing as “the ability to take ownership of one’s actions and understand the consequences of those actions for oneself and others,” this habit reflects the maturity needed in graduate school. Fostering this habit encourages students to recognize their own role in learning along with creating the understanding that it is shared experience with students and professors.

Another habit that strikes me is openness, which is defined as “the willingness to consider new ways of being and thinking in the world.” When we enter graduate school, we are introduced to many different topics, ideas, and people that we may have never interacted with before. It is important that we examine and understand different perspectives along with expanding our own. This habit also encourages us to practice different ways of discovering and presenting information, showcasing how we can incorporate various perspectives in our work.

The habit of mind that I find most important in graduate school is creativity. Defined as “the ability to use novel approaches for generating, investigating, and representing ideas,” creativity is the foundation for all the ideas and topics that we seek to discover more about. This habit not only fosters originality and individuality in grad school, but also allows for new methods of investigation and discovery that could provide fruitful results.