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Changing Mindsets: Effectiveness trial – UCL Discovery


Foliano, F;

Rolfe, H;

Buzzeo, J;

Runge, J;

Wilkinson, D;

(2019)

Changing Mindsets: Effectiveness trial.

Education Endowment Foundation: London, UK.

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Abstract

The Changing Mindsets project aimed to improve attainment outcomes at the end of primary school by teaching Year 6 pupils that their brain potential was not a fixed entity but could grow and change through effort exerted. The programme, delivered by Portsmouth University, taught pupils about the malleability of intelligence through workshops. Teachers attended short professional development courses on approaches to developing a ‘growth mindset’ before delivering sessions to pupils weekly, over eight consecutive weeks. Teachers were encouraged to embed aspects of the growth mindset approach throughout their teaching—for example, when giving feedback outside of the sessions. They were also given access to digital classroom resources, such as a video case study of Darwin overcoming adversity in his own life, as a practical example of the importance of having a growth mindset. The project was a randomised controlled trial (RCT) and included 101 schools and 5018 pupils across England, assigned to either intervention or control groups. The trial ran from September 2016 to February 2017. The process evaluation involved interviews with teachers, focus groups with pupils receiving the intervention, lesson observations, and surveys of both treatment schools and control groups throughout the course of the intervention. Key conclusions 1. Pupils in schools that received the intervention did not make any additional progress in literacy nor numeracy—as measured by the national Key Stage 2 tests in reading, grammar, punctuation, and spelling (GPS), and maths—compared to pupils in the control group. This finding has high security. 2. This evaluation also examined four measures of non-cognitive skills: intrinsic value, self-efficacy, test anxiety, and selfregulation. The evaluation did not find evidence of an impact on these measures for pupils in schools that received Changing Mindsets. A positive impact was found for the intrinsic value measure, but the impact was small and was not statistically significant. 3. Among pupils eligible for free school meals (‘FSM pupils’), those in schools that received the intervention did not make any additional progress in literacy nor numeracy—as measured by the national Key Stage 2 tests in reading, GPS, and maths— compared to FSM pupils in schools that did not receive the intervention. 4. One explanation for the absence of a measurable impact on pupil attainment is the widespread use of the growth mindset theory. Most teachers in the comparison schools (that did not receive the intervention) were familiar with this, and over a third reported that they had attended training days based on the growth mindset approach.

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