During the 15-16 academic year, the Tony Little Centre worked with Research Schools International at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on cutting-edge research on growth mindset and prosocial attitudes. Following previous research by Dweck and others, we used a brief course on mindset theory to help students become more growth-minded in their thinking. We also took a step into new research territory by exploring the relationship between growth mindset and prosocial attitudes, which include a broad range of attitudes that support others, such as kindness and helpfulness.
First, researchers collected baseline data from 187 Etonians, who were divided into an experimental group and a control group. Eton teachers delivered the growth mindset course to students in the experimental group once a week over three weeks. Researchers collected follow-up data from the students in the experimental and control groups. When all the data was in, researchers analyzed the data using quantitative and qualitative methods. Results revealed that students who took the growth mindset course learned to be more growth-minded. On a series of questions measuring mindset, students who took the course gave more growth-minded responses after taking the course, on average, compared to students in the control group; this difference was statistically significant. This adds to the growing body of research suggesting that by just learning about the power of your own thinking and your brain’s ability to change, you can become a more growth-minded person. But the findings didn’t stop there.
We also found an intriguing connection between growth mindset and prosocial attitudes. Not only did we find a statistically significant relationship between students’ mindset scores and their prosocial attitude scores, but students who took the growth mindset course actually improved their prosocial attitudes. That is, the growth mindset course led to a statistically significant increase in students’ prosocial attitudes; we did not find a change in the control group. This shift toward prosocial attitudes was reflected in students’ short answer responses on the follow up survey as well. These findings are exploring uncharted territory, and more research is needed to better understand the relationship between students’ mindsets and prosocial attitudes. But this study provides insights into how we can support students to be both more successful and kinder, and we think that’s quite exciting!
Read the full Eton-RSI report
Saturday Satya is a co-curricular programme which brings together students of diverse backgrounds from five different schools as part of the Independent & State School Partnership (ISSP) initiative. It takes place on Saturday mornings over four weeks. Each Saturday Satya session lasts for two hours. This research was commissioned by the Wisdom Project at Eton, which was responsible for designing and creating the Saturday Satya. It aimed to understand students’ experiences during the four sessions and to explore the pedagogical strengths and potentials of the programme. The focus of the enquiry was located around three broad questions:
What are students' experiences of the learning opportunities offered by Saturday Satya?
What are the pedagogical features of Saturday Satya that have contributed to these learning experiences?
How might the Saturday Satya sessions be improved?
For this investigation, we took a mixed-methods approach, including participant observation, questionnaire surveys, in-depth qualitative interviews with all participating students, focus group conversations, and critical reflection with the Saturday Satya team throughout the process.
The report ‘Exploring the Pedagogies and Learning Opportunities of a co-curricular programme at Eton College as part of the Eton-Slough-Hounslow Independent & State School Partnership Scheme’ is the fruit of a close collaboration between the research team and the Saturday Satya team.
'The Role of Research in Schools': Symposium held at Eton College, 4th July 2016
This invitation-only event was attended by some sixty delegates from research-engaged state and independent schools, Further Education colleges, and Higher Education colleges. There were seven speakers, including some of the UK's leading experts in the uses of research in schools, who spoke for 20 minutes each. Vimeos of the three sessions can be found below.
1. The role of research in schools
- Introductions: The Head Master and Jonnie Noakes, Director of the Tony Little Centre for Innovation and Research in Learning
- Working methods and overview of research in schools: Professor Bill Lucas (from 07:28)
- Discussion (from 34:20)
2. Engaging with research
- Evidence-based teaching: Mr Geoff Petty
- Using research to improve practice: Ms Philippa Cordingley (from 22:05)
- The role of professional learning communities in evidence-informed practice: Professor Louise Stoll (from 43:20)
- Discussion (from 01:04:50)
3. Engaging in research
- Improving education through measuring impact: Professor Rob Coe
- The embedded researcher model: Ms Laela Adamson (from 22:20)
- The complexities and potential pitfalls of school-based research: Dr Gary Jones (from 42:35)
- Discussion (from 1:00:00)
Forthcoming research projects:
Blended learning is a form of instruction whereby the student learns in part face-to-face, and in part using digital and online technology. It gives students some control over the time, place and pace of their learning while retaining the benefits of a teacher’s assistance and knowledge. Teachers can structure and teach blended courses more flexibly than in a classroom setting. Eton is investigating how blended learning can enhance learning in schools that have the benefit of much classroom time. Blended learning pilots are being run during the 16-17 academic year in GCSE History and in Pre-U Russian, and in the use of various digital technologies.
The impact of these pilots in a number of specific areas is being measured: how can implementation of blended learning impact on the boys' time management and organisation skills? Can implementation of blended learning facilitate time management of the lesson? What are the main benefits and difficulties that boys might experience as users of the online platform when implementing blended learning? Do boys show changes in their motivation and self-regulated learning that differ significantly from their peers' when studying in a blended learning model? Do boys show changes in academic achievement that differ significantly from their peers' when studying in a blended learning model?
Cognitive and psychological characteristics of consumers of novel psychoactive drugs
New psychoactive substances (NPS), particularly legal highs and cognitive enhancing drugs, look set to become major challenge for the education sector in coming years, in particular at university level.
This research will look at what motivates young people to use such substances and while Eton’s pupils will not be involved in the research in any way, the school is co-funding the project, alongside the Wallitt Foundation. The work will be conducted by a post-doctoral scientist within the MRC/Wellcome Trust Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, University of Cambridge.