What are Mindsets? - Wessex Group of 6th Form Colleges

Dr Sherria Hoskins, University of Portsmouth
• What is Growing Learners
• Background to Theories of intelligence
• Exploring the existing evidence
• More info on one of our RCTs
• Two tips for everyday practice
• What have we learned
• What we do now
What is Growing Learners
• Evidence based educational consultancy based
at the University of Portsmouth:
– Dr Sherria Hoskins
– Dr Victoria Devonshire
– Dr Emily Mason-Apps
– Dr Frances Warren
– Miss Mathilde Chanvin
• What we have done so far...
– Worked with PCC to explore why we
have lower than average attainment in
the city.
– Worked with over 100 schools
• EEF – Randomised control trial.
• Part of the ‘Closing the Gap’ scheme
(funded by National College for
Teaching & Leadership)
• Direct work with schools that request
our support.
“I don’t divide the world into the weak and
the strong, or the successes and the
failures... (or the high and low ability) I
divide the world into the learners and non
Benjamin Barber
Theories of
What are Mindsets?
Growth Mindset
• Belief that intelligence is malleable and can
• Success takes effort and persistence, learning
from mistakes and challenges.
Fixed Mindset
• Belief that intelligence is something you are born
• Can’t change it much.
Approaches to Learning:
Fixed Mindset
Growth Mindset
Intelligence is a fixed trait & can’t
change much
Intelligence can be increased through
Focus on performance
Focus on learning
Failure and/or effort perceived as being
sign of low ability
Not threatened by hard work or failure
Choose activities to maximise
performance (easy ones to feel clever)
Seek new challenges for a sense of
Don’t recover well from setbacks
Mistakes are perceived as a good thing
as they help the learning processes
Decrease efforts, withdraw or consider
cheating (self-protection)
View effort and persistence as a
necessary part of success
Helplessness orientation
Mastery orientation
Exploring the
Evidence from Neuroscience
Neurones in the brain transmit
information through connections
(synapses). The more we keep
our brains active through learning
new information, the more
connections the brain makes.
UCL - London taxi drivers.
Brain scans = larger hippocampus than others
Grew as they spent more time in the job.
Suggests brain adapts to help them learn ‘The
Knowledge’ and store mental maps.
Ericsson, Krampe, & Tesch-Romer (2007)
• Outstanding performance in violinists from the Music
Academy of West Berlin in Germany.
• Students were divided into three groups:
1. The outstanding group (expected to become international solists).
These were the children normally described as “super talented” and
“naturally” gifted.
2. The extremely good group (expected to end up playing in the
world’s top orchestras, but not as star soloists)
3. The least able group (studying to become music teachers- a course
with far less stringent entry requirements)
Remarkably similar – e.g.
• age started playing,
• age they decided to become musicians,
• number of teachers who had taught them.
Dramatic difference between the groups:
Number of hours spent practising by age 20
outstanding group = average of 10,000
extremely good group = 8,000
least able group = 2,000
No exceptions to this pattern.
Blackwell, Trzesniewski & Dweck (2007)
Study 1: Children’s theory of intelligence predicted maths grades
when making transition to high school.
• Pupils with growth mindsets progressed faster and outperformed
pupils with fixed mindsets.
Study 2: Intervention training (Brainology)
• 8 week intervention with school children.
• study skills and mindset workshop, vs only study skills.
• mindset training promoted positive change in motivation and
grades, in comparison to study skills only group.
Good, Aronson & Inzlicht (2003)
• Pupils randomly assigned student mentors
• growth mindset mentoring vs anti drug mentoring.
• Mindset mentees increased in maths and reading test
scores compared to a control group.
• Further, girls particularly benefitted in maths scores and
narrowed the gender gap.
• Performance suppressed by stereotype?
• Boys already positive and performing well in maths.
US Research
May not be relevant
Small numbers
One or two schools
No teacher intervention
Sometimes no control
No long term follow up
What about the UK?
Scottish study
The EEF Project...
Pupil Intervention
Study Skills
Teacher Intervention
What our results show. . .??
How to promote a Growth
Tips on Everyday practice
High expectations
Focus: resilience, self-sufficiency & good learning
Specific plans for growth and development
Celebrating mistakes
Use of role models
Celebrating mistakes
• The fear of making mistakes and associated shame
and embarrassment can stop pupils from trying.
• Don’t let pupils blame others for failure and mistakes.
• Make the most of their mistakes, celebrate mistakes!
• Promote challenge, effort and mistakes as part of
everyone’s learning process.
• When examples of attainment explore the process,
effort and mistakes.
• Give time each week to discuss learning via mistakes
(Mistakes Board).
Person/ability focused
feedback causes...
…Temporary high self-esteem if performed well but
longer term implications:
• When challenged or fail, pupils don’t know how to put it
right, and instead re-evaluate ability
• Creates low self-esteem/feel bad about themselves
• Avoidance of task in future
• Drop in attainment over time
Mueller & Dweck (1998)
Number of Problems solved
Trial 1
Trial 3
Carol Dweck talking about praise
Effort Praise
Control Praise
Intelligence Praise
Growth feedback
Give ‘process praise’
• Effort
• Strategy
• Interpret setbacks as lack of effort, persistence
or result of inappropriate strategies
Use also ‘task praise’
• What is better/worse than the last attempt
• What is/is not good, realistic, neat, correct etc.
about the product
What we now offer.
• A tool to identifying pupils’ learning
Intervention Manuals, Lesson Plans and
Materials (6 weeks * 1.5 hrs or flexible)
Additional ideas for lessons
Early Years, Primary, Secondary, 16+.
Bespoke services.
Working on a second RCT (120 UK schools –
train the trainer).
Project with Steve at Portsmouth College.
Any questions?
Phone us on 023 9284 6315
[email protected]

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