Department of Psychology

Further information

What is the evidence from our projects in the UK?

We have tested mindset interventions across 250 schools in the UK. Below is information about some of the projects and their findings.

Changing mindsets Project

We tested two approaches as part of an Education Endowment Foundation funded project: a pupil programme and teacher training. 

The pupil programme of workshops was delivered by members of the Growing Learners team.  It took only one and a half hours a week for 6 to 10 weeks to deliver.  The impact on attainment was an increase of 2 months in every 12.  Although this is a meaningful difference and was systematic, in that it was found for both numeracy and literacy attainment for all pupils (FSM and all others) the change is not large enough to be statistically significant.  For numeracy there is a 24% probability that the increased attainment is due to chance, rather than the intervention. The literacy improvement was approaching statistical significance, in this case there is only a 7% probability that the increased attainment is due to chance, rather than the intervention.  Something is considered statistically significant when there is a 5% or lower probability that change has occurred by chance.

We also trained teachers in two half day INSETs on the evidence and theory behind mindsets and gave them ideas on how they might change their whole school approach and their everyday practice.  For this intervention we did not work directly with pupils or provide materials for teachers.  The aim was to see what training alone could achieve.  This approach changed FSM pupils’ mindset positively, but it did not change attainment.  This is probably because some of the schools we worked with couldn’t take the training further.  Schools are busy places and for many reasons (that schools reading this will be familiar with) some of the schools could not fully implement mindset work with pupils, after the training.  When we test interventions we have to look at the average result across all the schools involved, rather than picking out only the schools that managed to implement mindset practice.  This means that overall we cannot report an effect on attainment for this intervention.

The EEF report indicates that teachers in the project thought that:

For them

  • the INSET was interesting, engaging and relevant to their teaching
  • had an appropriate mix of theory and practical ideas for delivering the approach
  • that it gave them the terminology, and particularly the praise vocabulary
  • teachers felt that the approach was particularly effective in relation to maths teaching where pupils were more likely to believe they lacked ability and to give up (although it should be noted that the best improvement in results were seen in the standardised tests for literacy)
  • it was a worthwhile use of their time

For children

children had readily understood the mindset theory, helped by the clear vocabulary of learning within the project
the project had equipped children with the language of learning, enabling them to verbalise and understand their own learning processes
the approach was effective with pupils who feel that they are poor learners, that education is not for them and who tend to disengage from learning
teachers saw a difference in pupil performance in the classroom, but felt that the approach was most likely to be effective in the longer rather than short term

For the school

  • consistent use is necessary, and that it needs to be part of a whole school approach
  • to have an impact, mindsets would need to be used in the longer term, starting in the early years
  • the approach should be reinforced through regular INSET, cascade learning and shared practice.

Take a look at the full EEF report here.

What do we do differently now?

It was our learning on this project that led us to offer the packages that we do now. We provide a mindset manual and lesson plans for teachers and parents with exercises and materials for a children so that after our training and guidance teachers and parents can start their mindset work with children without any additional preparation after the training.  The materials are an improved version of those that we used in the pupil intervention mentioned above.

Growing Learners’ Evaluation

During the Changing mindsets project we also collected additional data (not analysed as part of the EEF report) exploring pupils learning orientation (whether they were helpless or mastery in their approach to their work).  The results here are very promising indicating that both the teacher and pupil interventions had a positive impact on pupils learning, where they became more resilient learners, embracing challenge and learning from their mistakes.

Closing the Gap Project

In another intervention where we trained teachers and provided them with the intervention programme, funded by the National College for Teaching and Leadership interim results indicate that attainment also increased by 2 months for FSM eligible pupils.  We are now waiting to see what the results are for a FSM pupil focused intervention.
Take a look at the final report here.

We have now provided mindset interventions for over 250 nursery schools, schools (primary and secondary) and colleges across Europe.

For more information on our latest ongoing research programme click here: Changing mindsets