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Enabling teachers to promote incremental theories of intelligence in young children: an intervention and an instrument

Garnett, Nicholas James

Enabling teachers to promote incremental theories of intelligence in young children: an intervention and an instrument Thumbnail


Nicholas James Garnett


Yvonne Skipper


The primary focus of this thesis was to translate the rich ‘implicit theories of intelligence’ framework into an accessible intervention to allow teachers to promote growth mindsets in their pupils. A growth mindset is an implicit belief that one can grow one’s intelligence through learning and effort. Research suggests that those with a growth mindset will seek out challenges, are focussed on their learning rather than their results, and have a more positive response to failure. Previous research has linked these behaviours with increased educational attainment, especially for pupils at risk of not achieving their educational potential.
This project was completed in partnership with the Stoke Reads programme from the City of Stoke-on-Trent Council. The goal was to provide young learners in the City with the best possible literacy learning environment. The toolkit developed in this thesis is called the ‘Stoke Reads Mindset Kit’ and was developed utilising a co-creation approach, this meant working in parallel with a group of experts in early years literacy education to develop the intervention.
To explore whether the intervention was successful in its aims, an instrument to measure mindsets in young children was developed – the Mindset Measure for Young Children (MMYC). The first version of the instrument was trialled with adults to ensure the instrument had convergent validity with existing constructs (N=89). Following revisions, a trial was carried out with Reception pupils - the same age as those participating in the intervention. This was to assess if the instrument was sufficiently accessible for young children (N=51) and to evaluate test re-test reliability. Finally, to investigate the structure of the implicit theories framework the instrument was then trialled with a sample of adult participants, alongside existing instruments for every component of the implicit theories framework, e.g. response to failure, learning goals etc. (N = 125). The results suggested that the MMYC had convergent validity with existing instruments. However, a different structure to the framework as described in the literature was found, for example, a mastery response to failure did not clearly relate to a growth mindset.
Finally, the ‘Stoke Reads Mindset Kit’ was evaluated in a quasi-experimental design in schools across the City for one academic year (Npupils = 443, Kschools = 9). The findings suggest that key behaviours (e.g. positive response to failure) which the intervention was designed to promote were successfully increased, but pupil’s mindsets did not always change. In line with previous research, it was found that pupils at risk of academic underachievement benefitted the most from a growth mindset. However, there was no evidence to support the hypothesis that a growth mindset would help raise pupil aspirations. Finally, teacher feedback about the intervention was positive and data suggested that they had a more positive view of their pupils’ potential following their engagement with the Stoke Reads Mindset Kit. The key contributions of this thesis are: the development of a novel psychometric instrument to measure mindsets in young children; that it is possible to translate the rich theoretical framework into a ‘light-touch’ intervention; and that the structure of the implicit theories framework may not be as previously described.

Thesis Type Thesis
Publicly Available Date May 26, 2023
Award Date 2020-07


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