A subject leader’s investigation into the impact of a structured approach to feedback based on ‘making mistakes’ in preparation for the Year 11 GCSE English Language Unit 2 examination
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Resilience may be defined as the ability to overcome obstacles and recover from setbacks. Resilient learners are able to persevere with problems and overcome not knowing through hard work and effort. They accept that their ability is not fixed but something that can be developed and enhanced through greater effort and as such have what may be called a growth mindset with regard to their learning (Elliot & Dweck, 1988; Dweck, Walton & Cohen, 2014). The following study is designed to investigate the impact that a growth mindset strategy, relating to the use of mistakes in classroom feedback sessions, has on pupil attainment and confidence levels in the preparation for an externally assessed GCSE English Language examination. Furthermore, it explores the value that teachers of English place on the strategy and assesses the impact they feel it has on teaching and learning in a secondary school context in South Wales. This action research supports the notion that academic behavior can be changed through intervention as suggested by psychology (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Skinner, 1953 & Staats, 1963) however accepts that this is a challenging task given our tendency to for learned helplessness (Seligman & Maier, 1967; Steele, 1997 & Steele & Aronson, 1995). It acknowledges the influential and far reaching findings of Dweck et al (1988, 2014) and uses these as the foundations for this project. A mixed methods approach provides both quantitative and qualitative data. Impact on attainment is not statistically significant however positive impact on the attainment of a pupil with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) is noted. The study shows a clear link between the use of strategies which support a growth mindset and an improvement in confidence and attitudes to subject. It also acknowledges the influential role teachers play on outcomes. This dissertation recommends future action research with younger pupils to test the theories established and address the limitations covered. In addition, it suggests that a culture of teaching and learning which fosters a growth mindset be encouraged by senior leaders through a robust program of professional development and support for staff. Finally, it proposes that a small scale study be conducted with pupils with ALN in order to test the impact which this strategy has on pupil attainment for these groups of learners.
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