Habits of Mind: Designing Courses for Student Success

Julia M. Gossard, Ph.D. & Chris Babits, Ph.D.

Although content knowledge remains at the heart of college teaching and learning, instructors have started to recognize that we must also provide twenty-first-century college students with transferable skills to prepare them for their futures (Vazquez, 2020; Hazard, 2012; Ritchhart, 2015; Venezia & Jaeger, 2013). In order to “grow their capacity as efficacious thinkers to navigate and thrive in the face of unprecedent change,” students should learn important skills and strategies throughout their educational careers (Costa, Kallick, and Zmuda, 2022). Utah State University instructors are particularly adept at providing these competencies and skills in introductory, mid, advanced, and even career-preparation courses. Habits of Mind: Designing Courses for Student Success brings together transformative Utah State University instructors to highlight their experiences in developing “Habits of Mind” assignments and frameworks in their courses, ensuring student success along the way.

This book adopts a broad definition of “habits of mind” -  the skills, assignments, and practices that help students develop the academic and social skills necessary to become independent, entrepreneurial, and reflective in both their college and eventual professional careers. These practices also deepen students’ critical thinking and problem-solving abilities. For example, habits of mind practices might include (but are not limited to) lessons or assignments on effective listening and note-taking; semester planning; or developing a growth mindset. Certain course design practices such as providing the space for reflection in learning; opportunities to revise work based upon feedback; or allowing students autonomy and choice are also considered part of the habits of mind framework that this book entails.

Proposoals due by August 1, 2022

Submit Proposal

Organization, Format, & Style

The book will be composed of 12-14 chapters along with a foreword, introduction, and conclusion. 

Habits of Mind: Designing Courses for Student Success will be organized into five distinct parts:

Part I. Before the First Day of College


Part II. Building Success and Confidence in Introductory and Gateway Courses


Part III. Strengthening Student Success in Mid-level and Advanced Courses

Part IV. Constructing Long-term and Career Success 


Chapters can be on individual assignments, a group of assignments/module, informal classroom practices, syllabus design, course design, or other practices that an instructor believes fits within the “habits of mind” definition provided above.

Chapters will be 3,000-5,000 words in length. Chapters can be anecdotal/narrative in style or be an IRB-driven scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) study.

Timeline For Publication

  • August 1, 2022 - Chapter Abstracts Due to Editors
  • September 15, 2022 – Abstract Authors are Notified of Acceptance
  • January 2023 – Seminar Workshop on “Habits of Mind” for Authors
  • March 10, 2023 – First Drafts due to Editors
  • March/April 2023 – Peer Review Occurs
  • June 15, 2023 – Revisions (Final Drafts) Due
  • Summer 2023 – Copyediting
  • Mid-August 2023 - Publication

Why Only Utah State University Instructors as Contributors?

Utah State University instructors are pathbreaking and transformative teachers at all levels of the curriculum. Habits of Mind: Designing Courses for Student Success spotlights innovative USU instructors who serve a wide range of students in traditional, online, and blended classrooms. This book serves as a guide for other USU instructors as well as those at similar land-grant, R1, and/or large-enrollment public universities in North America to demonstrate how our instructors are leading the way in higher ed pedagogy. As Steven Gavazzi, author of Land-Grant Universities for the Future, explained in 2019 at the USU Empowering Teaching Excellence Conference, one of the key attributes that land-grant universities provide to their communities is to “support equitable access to all formats of learning.” Utah State University, with its state-wide campus system, commitment to equitable online learning, and its dedication to a large number of first-generation students, embodies this ideal.


How to Propose and Author a Chapter:

The editors are happy to meet with prospective authors via Zoom, on the phone, or in-person to discuss an idea for a chapter before writing a formal proposal to provide guidance and refine topic ideas; https://calendly.com/drgossard/habits-of-mind 

All prospective chapter authors must submit a chapter proposal for review. The editors will review chapter proposals and make decisions on the table of contents after receiving all proposals.
*Note, submitting a proposal for review does not guarantee inclusion in the book.

A chapter proposal should be 300-500 words in length (not including the CV) and adhere to the following format:

  • An attention-grabbing main title and a descriptive subtitle

  • A clearly stated goal or objective of the chapter

  • An explanation of the chapter’s theoretical and/or methodological approach to teaching habits of mind

  • A narrative overview of what the chapter will cover

  • Whether the author intends to write about anecdotal experiences or if this is an IRB-driven, SoTL study (The editors have no preference between either, we just want to know as IRB can take some time to seek approval)

  • A brief author bio that indicates why you’re interested in contributing to this volume (should not exceed 200 words; does not count towards proposal length requirements)

  • Attach a current CV (does not count towards the 300-500 words)

*View sample proposal written by the editors for additional guidance


Julia M. Gossard, Ph.D.

Julia Gossard
Utah State University
Bio: Julia M. Gossard is (as of July 1, 2022) Associate Dean for Research in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Associate Professor of History, and Distinguished Associate Professor of Honors Education at Utah State University. Gossard earned her Ph.D in History at the University of Texas at Austin. An award-winning educator and a specialist with high-impact teaching practices, Dr. Gossard’s teaching portfolio is expansive, ranging from engaging online introductory surveys to historical research methods and graduate courses in history and theory.

Chris Babits, Ph.D.

Chris Babits
Utah State University
Bio: Chris Babits is a temporary assistant professor of U.S. History, History of Sexuality, and History of Psychology at Utah State University, where he also serves as the coordinator of concurrent enrollment for U.S. History. Babits earned a Ph.D. in U.S. History from the University of Texas at Austin. Before enrolling at UT-Austin, Babits was a doctoral student in Social Studies Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He has taught high school history, introductory surveys, research methods courses, and graduate-level teaching methods.