Feedback to Support Growth Mindset

This blog follows on from my previous one on growth mindset. All the resources and work I’ve used in relation to this can be found on this padlet. In that previous email I said that at my school we’d be focusing in on the research which has indicated that recursive processes help to ensure sustained impact on students, from a psychological intervention such as growth mindset. This approach also fits in with research from Stanford (Yaeger et al) that suggests we should create everyday experiences that reinforce  positive mindset. So recursive processes are one strand, in helping us sustain and develop GM at my school.

The second strand for sustaining and developing GM is, I believe, increasing a student’s self efficacy. Self efficacy is a measure of a students expectations about their performance in future tasks, it focuses on students successfully mastering specific tasks. Research has shown that this non-cognative skill has a positive outcome on students and a high impact. Good self efficacy predicts greater academic persistence and higher levels of achievement. Most importantly there is a reciprocal relationship between self efficacy and improved performance as my diagram below illustrates.

UntitledFor us the question has then become “what everyday recursive process exists in school, that could drive up self efficacy and enhance the GM message in the daily experience of our students’?”

Our answer to this has been ‘feedback’.

If improved self efficacy and improved performance are pedals on a bike, then feedback is the power which brings about the cyclical process. Good feedback is recursive in nature, building on what has been done previously to create what comes after. Hence uniting these two strands. Essentially feedback translates the “I can’t do it yet” into the “I can do it now”, reinforcing the psychological intervention of GM. GM equips them with the understanding they need in order to respond positively to the feedback that they should be receiving.

As if anymore support were needed on the significance of feedback within the development of GM we can turn to the work of Hattie, he records the impact of feedback at 0.90. Or as Black and William’s research showed feedback can add up to two grades to a students progress over time. And who is most effected by feedback? The student’s who are currently the ‘weakest’. Closing the gap a concern? Feedback is one key to this.

We are therefore continuing to develop the feedback that students receive from our staff. Making clear that on a rotational basis, of about three weeks, students receive feedback which requires immediate and direct action by them to improve its quality. This feedback may be verbal and then recorded by the student on a verbal feedback sticker, or written. We have developed a range of styles that the feedback may take. But all feedback must bring about improvement work by the student, that is then marked by the the teacher and the impact acknowledged. this may be an increase in a grade or score, or a comment on the quality achieved through such development. We are also exploring ways that students may become better equipped to offer peer feedback to one another, so they become part of that process.

On the padlet there are some of our sample strategies. We are in a process of learning and experimenting, to try and home the effectiveness of our feedback. What we are certain of is that feedback is central to our embedding of GM if we are genuine about it making a sustained and positive difference to our students. No more noisy banging of a mindset drum which was, in effect, never designed to be played constantly through sound bites and motivational posters.


About Learning to Teach Lorraine Abbott

Deputy Headteacher in a Surrey School Author for Hodder Education
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