Collective mindset : the role of culture, community and metacognition in the development of shared beliefs about intelligence

Leslie, Philippa and Boyd, Pete and Elton-Chalcraft, Sally and Hymer, Barry (2021) Collective mindset : the role of culture, community and metacognition in the development of shared beliefs about intelligence. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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The beliefs that we hold about intelligence are influential, especially our beliefs about its malleability. Is our intelligence unchangeable and fixed, or is it possible to grow it? Perhaps even more importantly, in a school context, how might the ‘collective’ beliefs about intelligence developed between teachers and children influence their beliefs about their capabilities and their learning behaviours? Research suggests that an individual’s implicit belief about the malleability of intelligence supports the development of a mastery-approach goal orientation, which can positively impact on achievement and outcomes. While this may appear to be a simple and logical conclusion, this study suggests that it may be more problematic putting this theory into practice in the real-world social setting of a primary school. It seeks to engage critically with Mindset Theory to understand how teachers might acknowledge and ameliorate for challenges associated with implementation in a social-cultural context. This case study uses an ethnographic approach to investigate a primary school in England in which teachers are deliberately and collaboratively adopting a pedagogical approach that aims to support the development of growth Mindset for individual learners. This study aims to contribute to Mindset Theory by investigating interactions in real-world social learning contexts with a multimethod, qualitative approach. Focusing on the social and physical learning environment, data were generated through participatory observation, interviews and focus groups involving practical activities with teachers and children. Thematic Qualitative Analysis suggests that teachers in the case study school are developing a culture that encourages beliefs about the malleability of intelligence and strategies for mastery goal setting. Findings point to the importance of features in the learning environment of community, metacognition, challenge and goal setting, which underpin key practices cultivated in the case study school through sustained and collaborative professional learning. They highlight the value of dialogue and shared metacognitive processes interactions between teachers and children. Analysis indicates the importance of teachers and children recognising that beliefs about intelligence are complex and influenced by an individual’s experiences and interactions within and beyond the classroom environment. It suggests the possibility of understanding a new, social model of pedagogy informed by Mindset Theory.

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Thesis (PhD)
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25 Oct 2021 12:20
Last Modified:
16 May 2024 03:03