On 28th June, we welcomed 200 students, staff, and stakeholders within and beyond higher education to the University of Portsmouth for a day long conference to celebrate the first year of the Office for Students funded, attainment gaps focused Changing Mindsets project.

The conference featured:

  • Initial findings from the project, including presentations from the five institutional project partners
  • Keynotes by Universityof Portsmouth Chancellor Karen Blackett OBE and Amatey Doku, NUS Vice President for Higher Education
  • At the Intersections: Race and Class in Higher Education, student panel discussion
  • And an exhibit of student artwork inspired by and related to the project

The conference was captured on Twitter with 100s of Tweets from attendees, many of them archived here.

Download the conference programme for brief bios of the Keynote speakers and panellists. Photo highlights from the day’s events can been viewed here.


Watch video highlights from the event:

Project Presentations: Initial Findings from the project

Six brief presentations were given to highlight the work done across the project by the five universities working in partnership on Changing Mindsets.

Change in Progress: Project overview, initial findings, and where we go from here
Presented by Dr Jessica Gagnon, Project Lead and Juan Batley, Learner Analytics Specialist, University of Portsmouth

Watch the presentation

This presentation provided a brief overview of the Changing Mindsets project, including attainment gaps by the numbers, introduction to key concepts, and highlights from initial findings.

If you’d like to know more about the initial findings from the first year of the project, download and read the full mid-project report here.

Outside the box: Mindsets, bias, and innovation
Presented by Arif Mahmud, Project Officer, University of Portsmouth

Watch the presentation

This presentation explored strategies for developing growth mindsets and for bias habit breaking as they connect to creativity and innovation, both creativity and innovation as they relate to students and their approaches to learning and also as they relate to staff and their approaches to teaching and assessment practices. In what ways might our ability to create and to innovate be hampered by our beliefs about the nature of intelligence and by our unconscious biases? Initial findings from the Changing Mindsets project were explored in order to discuss ways that universities might enable staff and students to develop creativity and enhance innovation.

Read some of the project blogs by Arif Mahmud: The Gaps by the Numbers and Mindsets, bias and innovation: A Changing Mindsets approach

Radical pedagogies: co-creating subject specific intervention materials for art and design
Presented by Vikki Hill, Project Officer, University of the Arts London

Watch the presentation

At the University of the Arts London (UAL) we believe that change can happen when staff and students come together to inform policy and curriculum. We have re-named the intervention as UAL Creative Mindsets to further embed the project in the creative endeavours and values of our arts university. In this presentation we showcased Project work developed by both staff and students, underpinned by pedagogic approaches that support the co-creation and democratisation of materials and how these have been designed to address subject specific contexts.

Watch the UAL Creative Mindsets video that was shared at the conference.

Check out the Decolonising the Curriculum zine that was shared at the conference.

Watch the first of a series of conversations between Vikki Hill and Dr Gurnam Singh

Read Lucy Panesar’s blog Troublesome knowledge and conversations: Learning how to talk about race at UAL

Mindsets in the classroom: Tools for evidenced-based teaching practices
Presented by Jenny Terry, Project Officer, University of Brighton

Watch the presentation

One aim of the Changing Mindsets project is to encourage growth mindsets in students. This presentation demonstrated just some of the techniques designed to facilitate growth mindsets that have featured in workshops at the University of Brighton. It gave an insight into the intervention itself as well as some useful tools that may be applicable to delegates’ own practice.

Read some of the project blogs by Jenny Terry: My Changing Mindset and Walking the Talk: Using Growth Mindset Strategies on an Introductory Statistics Module

Peer-Led and Tutor supported: Student and Staff experiences of Mindset and the benefit of subject integrated approaches
Presented by Dr Karl Alvestad, Project Officer, University of Winchester

Watch the presentation

Drawing on experiences, observations and interviews with participants and tutors this presentation proposed that a peer-led intervention will benefit from strong staff support and firm subject grounding are factors that will contribute to success for interventions and help change the educational cultures in UK Higher Education. This presentation addressed the relationships between student engagement and motivations on the one hand, and the need to address the attainment gap and stimulate student’s development within HE on the other. Our findings suggest that successful interventions and peer learning schemes are more likely to succeed when students and staff experience a coherent approach to the scheme and understand the direct benefits of their attendance on their attainment and development.

Read some of the project blogs by Dr Karl Alvestad: Peer-leaders our (not so) secret tool for success and Reflecting on Our Growth stories

Moving away from innocence – Changing Mindsets and the decolonised curriculum
Presented by Liam Greenslade, Project Officer, Canterbury Christ Church University

Watch the presentation

During the Changing Mindsets intervention, some elements of the project exposed existing tensions amongst participants regarding ethnic, class, and social identities. Specific concerns were raised suggesting that the colonial legacy continued to exert a tacit impact on contemporary pedagogy. A clear connection emerged between the predominance of white, male, and middle class European assumptions in academic programmes and the disengagement of BME and working class students. Students who are denied role models or who see no meaningful relationship between their reality and that implied in their education often withdraw, literally and metaphorically. This presentation outlined ways in which we addressed issues around decolonising the curriculum and described some of the practical activities which colleagues can use to circumvent its impact on student success.

Read some of the project blogs by Liam Greenslade: What may be thought against our thought: Changing Mindsets & the Decolonised Curriculum Part 1 and Not being neutral: Changing Mindsets and the Decolonised Curriculum Part 2


Centring the Student Voice: Closing the gaps across the sector

Keynote by Amatey Doku, NUS Vice President for Higher Education

Watch the Keynote

Visit Amatey Doku’s NUS profile

Read Amatey Doku’s article in Wonkhe: Let’s fix the Black attainment gap


At the Intersections: Race and Class in Higher Education student panel

The panel of students and recent graduates from each partner university discussed the intersections of race/ethnicity and class in higher education and their experiences.

Watch the panel discussion

The panel was facilitated by Angel Layer, the University of Portsmouth Student Union Vice President Education and Democracy and Amber Mathurin, the University of Portsmouth Student Union Vice President Activities. Panellists included:

Jason Selormey, University of Portsmouth
E Okobi, University of the Arts London
Joel Simpson, University of the Arts London
Ebun Azeez, University of Brighton
Shile Gbelee, University of Brighton
Christianne Arnold, Canterbury Christ Church University
Ola Komolafe, University of Winchester
Maisha Islam, University of Winchester
Amatey Doku, NUS VP HE

Read a project blog post by panellist E Okobi: Mindset and the Shared Narrative


Changing Mindsets: The importance of authenticity and self-belief

Keynote by University of Portsmouth Chancellor Karen Blackett OBE

Watch the Keynote

Visit Chancellor Blackett’s University profile

Read an interview with Chancellor Blackett conducted by the Student Union 


Join us 13th February 2019

We hope you will join us for the final event of the project. Please save the date: Wednesday 13th February, 2019 at the Society for Research into Higher Education, located near Kings Cross Station in London. Registration will open in October and spaces are limited.


Please note, if you find errors in the closed captioning on the videos, please let us know by email. We are working to resolve them.



Change in Progress: Highlights from the mid-project Changing Mindsets conference
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