The aim of this project was to design and deliver a series of growth mindset lessons, utilising different strategies to raise engagement with literacy activities and sequentially, raise literacy attainment with a small cohort of targeted individuals. These children were identified as those with low engagement and their assessment data reflected this with being below average for their age and stage. However, the project was implemented with the entire class, not just the six children, to avoid any potential stigma or detrimental effects towards the group.
The aims of the project aligned well with the School Improvement Plan. One development area was focused on raising literacy attainment in each stage, and so naturally the project was designed to support this. The goal of this project was that upon completion, any success would be identified through evidence of growth mindset influence and then this approach would be replicated in all stages to support all learners in raising their attainment in literacy.
Through participating in this project, we had hoped that the pupils would change their perceptions through understanding growth mindset and with this enhanced knowledge, engage and demonstrate a range of growth mindset techniques. In turn, more engagement with literacy would see an increase in related attainment data.
We achieved the raising attainment element of this project. We saw an increase in engagement and a rise in assessment data from all individuals in the target group. There could have been other influences contributing to this increase in attainment and not solely the growth mindset content. Consulting the questionnaire data, it highlighted a slight positive change in the children's attitudes but not significantly. Therefore, we are hesitant to say that this increase in literacy assessment data is due solely due to the taught growth mindset strategies.
The data analysis of the recorded Leuven scale observations revealed that there had been a variety of engagement responses from the learners. The varied data is difficult to interpret. We are aware that external factors have influenced their lack of engagement in education in general. Taking this into consideration, the remaining learners in this cohort still do not follow a clear result pattern. We had anticipated that all would have displayed a significant increase in engagement throughout the duration of the project. However, the project has not had the full momentum with COVID-19 absences (both pupil and staff). It would be interesting to see the project flow with no absences and over a longer period of time whether more notable increases in attainment and engagement would occur.
Unfortunately, due to these absences, some individuals missed the growth mindset input lessons and support staff were not able to engage the same. There were significant staff shortages and so, movement of staff around the building has been necessary to 'plug gaps'. The project identified that a key feature was for all staff working with the class to use and model the growth mindset language and advocate the strategies in all areas of their school day (in and outside of the classroom). This has potentially had impacted negatively on the children's experience as they have not had this additional growth mindset experience from other adults outwith the classroom. Ultimately, this disruption was beyond my control.
Reflecting as a whole, we would adapt and implement slightly differently if starting again. Firstly, we would look to extend the length of time for implementation. The project itself needed worked into an already full timetable and perhaps there were not enough growth mindset focused lessons. An extension would allow for a deeper understanding and appreciation for growth mindset and this may influence literacy and other curriculum areas' attainment.
The timeline laid out initially was reasonably well paced, but ultimately the timeline was disrupted by absences. Some of those learners, upon their return to school, took significant time to resettle back into the routines and way of the classroom again. The growth mindset lessons were also not delivered when a supply cover teacher was necessary. This did ensure consistency of delivery and implementation.
The original timeline was planned with consideration to the school calendar and this allowed for delays with time still set aside to assess and analyse the data. The adapted timeline allowed for these absences and therefore there was a new finish date. We believe that this did not hinder the project's impact as the growth mindset course content was all successfully delivered. On a positive, the extension provided additional time to research more and further embed the growth mindset language and attitudes.
As previously discussed, there was significant absences throughout the delivery of this project. Therefore, adaptations had to be made, as it could not quite follow the originally plan. The methodology included one growth mindset lesson a week, however this had to be flexible to allow for absence and other last-minute scheduled whole school events. So, there was an occasion where two lessons were delivered in one week and a different week with no direct input lesson. However, that is not to say the children did not still have the language reinforced during the week with no growth mindset lesson. We do not think that this had a profound negative impact on the targeted individual group or whole class.
One alteration concerned the delivery of the growth mindset lesson content for one individual. They were not accessing their education in the classroom setting and we therefore did 1-1 sessions with them, ensuring that they still had the same content as the other focus learners. This is not abnormal and so, this individual and the remainder of the class did not find this unusual hence no stigma from others, as the class know this is how this individual accesses education sometimes. They are very accepting of this.
The remainder of the methodology remained unchanged with each of the six learners providing responses to the interview questionnaire and these being recorded accordingly.
When critically analysing the data, we found that most of the individuals in this primary 5 class have had some influence from this project. The assessment data, highlighted that there has been progress for these individuals. However, we cannot ascertain that this is due to the project in isolation rather than external factors i.e. natural learning progress, parental input and influence. The use of the Leuven Scale of Engagement was very apt as this documented clearly the rate of engagement in literacy activities. Since the project has finished, the majority of the children involved are still engaging more across the curriculum as a whole.
We are seeing evidence of the majority working more independently to support themselves with literacy activities and more confidence during read group sessions with three of the targeted children. This highlights that there has been a shift in their attitudes along the journey (which will still continue) and the benefits may not have been captured in all of the data within that timescale. The classroom continues to utilise the growth mindset language and accompanying displays are referred to weekly. Therefore, it is hoped that the benefits will continue, even if it needs to be over a longer period of exposure time.
The potential reach and impact of the project was undoubtedly affected due to the inconsistency in adults’ approaches. As previously mentioned, this has been due to staffing shortages and rotation of support staff. If a consistent approach had been possible, further exposure to Growth Mindset language and strategies would have had a significant impact on all learner attitudes. This could only go from strength to strength if all adults in the school setting applied this and the children went from year to year experiencing the same positive growth mindset approach. In turn, the positive attitudes and rise in attainment should be reflected in all areas, not just literacy as this project has been focus on.
The language associated with growth mindset has increased to daily exposure, and we are more conscious of the phrases and vocabulary used. This will continue to be a practice, it is a shift in attitude rather than an onerous task and will have a positive impact on all learners who are exposed.
Project data was to be collected in a variety of ways: engagement observation, SWST/moderated writing assessments and qualitative interview questions, this acted as evidence for the project. It was important that a pre-project baseline was established to compare with post-project.
When analysing the data obtained through the Single Word Spelling Test pre and post project, it was clear all individuals made progress with a higher spelling age. The assessments were implemented in comparable conditions. It is worth noting that naturally children have their birthdays throughout the school year and so the Single Word Spelling Test was at the next age-appropriate test.
A notable positive impact can be identified in the moderated piece of writing evidence. When considering the length of text produced, it is clear that individuals were engaging to write more in the time given. There has also been transfer of some skills learned during literacy sessions i.e. different types of higher level punctuation (not necessary in the correct places but demonstrating an awareness of these). The assessment pieces produced have showed improvements between August and December and we expected this to continue into the next assessment period.
The interview questionnaire evidence provided mixed responses pre and post project. In the pre-project interview questionnaire, the majority of learners had a generally negative attitudes to literacy. These, in general, were seen to improve in the post-project interview questionnaires. This highlights that some learners have improved their mindset and is more positive than before with regards to literacy.
The evidence gathered through the Leuven Scale of Engagement identified that most children would engage with more enthusiasm but could still have a fixed mindset, depending on the literacy task. Overall, this was been encouraging with a positive influence of growth mindset being present in the classroom.
With all these measurements implemented prior and post project, the evidence collected showed a positive impact from the project with the focus individuals. Looking towards the future, it is anticipated that with a whole school approach, with all staff upskilled, all learners will benefit from growth mindset and we will see an increase in positive engagement and even a rise in attainment.
With the strengths of this project, demonstrating a positive impact on literacy engagement and subsequently attainment, we intend to continue with a growth mindset approach. We expect this to boost pupil participation across the curriculum for all learners and in turn, improvement in attainment data.
We intend to continue using growth mindset language and techniques for the benefit of all learners and ensure that this is experienced in all activities, not exclusively literacy. We will also look to further teacher understanding and knowledge of growth mindset, including researching the ‘The Learning Pit’ and how this could be used in class.
Further discussions with leadership identified that for the next academic year, it would be pertinent to undertake a whole school growth mindset approach. It is hoped that this will support the rise in attainment across all stages with a positive attitude to learning experiences and engagement overall in the school setting.