The Learning and Teaching Hub

Changing Mindsets project logo

Changing Mindsets

Changing Mindsets: Reducing stereotype threat, implicit bias, and barriers to students in transition

Changing Mindsets project logo
In 2019 colleagues in the Learning and Teaching Hub completed a national Office for Students funded catalyst project Changing Mindsets, a student and staff workshop-based intervention intended to build a growth mindset: the belief that ability develops through effort and by embracing challenge (Dweck, 2017). View an online resource about Growth Mindset. The intervention, initially developed at the University of Portsmouth in 2012 by Professor Sherria Hoskins, had been run with staff and students from primary and secondary schools, through to further and higher education. This particular Changing Mindsets intervention was conducted at four universities (University of Portsmouth, University of Brighton, University of the Arts London, University of Winchester), and aimed to address the attainment gaps in student experience, retention, progression, academic attainment and employability by changing mindsets and eroding stereotype threat (Steele, 1997) and implicit bias (Devine et al, 2012) as barriers to learning.

An Adaptable, Flexible Intervention

The workshop-intervention, by design, was flexible and adaptable. The five key learning outcomes were designed to improve participants’ understandings of:

1. Their own mindset
2. The interaction between stereotype threat, implicit bias and mindset
3. The impact of their own and others’ mindset on their own and others’ behaviour, language use, and expectations
4. The impact of behaviour, language use, and expectations on learning and educational outcomes
5. Strategies for developing their growth mindset, inclusive behaviours, high expectations for all and
6. Enabling language

Infographic comparing mindsets
The workshops take staff and students through a process in which they explore their own beliefs around the nature of ability and intelligence. View and use the workshop slide deck. This is conceptualised within the context of Mindset research, and leads them to explore their own Mindset, and the impact of this on their expectations for self and others, on their behaviour and decision making, and on their language and feedback (internal and to others). From here they explore strategies to develop a Growth Mindset, inclusive behaviours, bias habit breaking strategies, setting high expectations (of self and others), and using Growth Mindset language for all learners. The pedagogic approach taken in both staff and student workshops was to present concepts, evidence and strategies in an engaging and interactive way, using, as examples, multi-media presentation, self-assessments, illustrative examples, sharing of own experience, individual and group discussion, practical exercises, modelling language, interaction and self-voice, and exploring common scenarios.

Catherine McConnell and Marina Trowell will be presenting this intervention and research outcomes at a forthcoming Inside Government Disadvantaged Students Forum (date to be confirmed). They will engage participants in a selection of mindsets activities to gain a sense of the intervention, and to consider how Changing Mindsets could be introduced to other institutional contexts. There will also be a discussion activity to reflect on the changing needs of new entrants to higher education, in the context of needing to re-engage with education, develop digital skills, and the social aspects of learning which have been negatively impacted across the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you would like to learn more about how you can incorporate Mindsets content into your curriculum, and learning and teaching plans for 2021/2022, please do contact Catherine McConnell in the Learning and Teaching Hub,

Fiona Handley • June 10, 2021

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