On 13 February 2019, The Changing Mindsets Project held a conference at Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE). Staff and Students from various Universities and organisations were present to discuss Eliminating Inequalities: Staff and students working in partnership to tackle differential outcomes.

The conference featured:

  • An overview of the project and the initial findings from the survey data delivered by Project Lead Dr Jessica Gagnon
  • A 15 minute presentation of sub topics related to the project by the Institutional project partners; Laura Watson from University of Winchester, Catherine McConnell from University of Brighton and Vikki Hill from University of Arts London
  • A keynote by Ilyas Nagdee
  • Student Panel discussion by E Okobi, Fiona Bazzoni, Angel Layer, Sam Jenkins ,Joel Simpson and Maisha Islam

Change in Progress: Project overview, initial findings, and where we go from here

Presented by Dr Jessica Gagnon, Project Lead, University of Portsmouth

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 from the evaluation research data collected so far. Based on the initial findings, recommendations for action were offered. Findings from the project were intended to inform higher education policies and practices to address inequalities in students’ experiences and outcomes This presentation focused immensely on the difference between having a growth mindset vs a fixed mindsets and how the different mindsets could have an impact on educational achievement. The importance of stereotype and bias on learning environment was also highlighted and strategies for various ways to break biased habits were proposed. 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.

Watch the presentation here

The Multiple Partnerships in Changing Mindsets delivery

Presented by Laura Watson, Project Officer, University of Winchester

The University of Winchester holds the value of student and staff partnership strongly, which means that there are many opportunities for the students to be directly involved in their learning and teaching experience. The PAL scheme is an example of how students can be involved with contributing to the university experience of others by making changes to their university through supporting students in their learning as well as helping to break down barriers to learning based on bias and stereotype threat. This presentation was able demonstrate the multiple partnerships between students, staff and existing schemes such as PAL that are involved in delivering Changing Mindsets as well as the impact that these partnerships have on students and peer-leaders.

Watch the presentation given by Laura Watson

Modelling mindsets through co-production

Presented by Vikki Hill, Project Officer, University of the Arts London

One year ago, we posed the question, How can we make the UAL Creative Mindsets intervention sustainable at the University of the Arts London? In response to this directive, we upscaled the
project by building a team of current students, staff and Alumni to co-facilitate workshops and ultimately co-produce materials. We focused on at least 3 courses per college that were supported by the Academic Enhancement Model and delivered Induction week workshops for all Year 1 students at London College of Communication. We will explore our efforts to embed UAL Creative Mindsets within the university to, in effect, change the culture, create buy-in and enthusiasm for the work and to address attainment differentials by developing growth mindsets, build resilience and reduce implicit bias.

Watch the presentation given by Vikki Hill

Facilitating Partnerships: Using mindset principles to support collaboration

Presented by Catherine McConnell, Team Lead, University of Brighton

When student-staff partnerships happen well, they can be dynamic, transformational and inspiring for both students, staff and the university. However, in reality, there can be challenges to student-staff partnership which need to be addressed. This presentation highlights those challenges which include the inevitable power dynamics between educator/assessor and learner, as well as lack of clarity about roles, responsibilities and expectations. Using the principles found in Dweck’s (2017) ‘implicit theories of intelligence’, along with structured collaborative activities, has been found to be helpful in facilitating communication and building relationships, through making the often implicit and unsaid explicit, transparent and more easily discussed. This presentation will also address some of the challenges of developing student staff collaborative work, and introduce five resources that can help ensure it is authentic and accessible to students, with clear expectations, communications, and is effective in embedding action.

Watch the presentation given by Catherine McConnell

Tackling Inequality: Lessons learnt & lessons shared

Presented by Ilyas Nagdee, NUS Black Students’ Officer

Ilyas Nagdee is the NUS Black Students Officer representing students from African, Asian, Arab and Caribbean Backgrounds. He was formerly the Diversity Officer at the
University of Manchester Students Union where he graduated in Middle Eastern Studies. He is a co-convenor of the students not suspects campaign against the
government’s Prevent Duty and co-author of the Experiences of Muslim Students in Education Research which the NUS published in 2018. His campaigning looks at antiracism, state violence, international peace and justice and decolonisation.

His keynote explored an overview of the work to address attainment gaps and other systemic inequalities that are taking place across the country with useful lessons learnt from the roll out of these programmes. The aim was for delegates to develop an understanding of the bigger picture of staff and students working together to tackle differential outcomes. As work on the attainment gaps and other inequalities gains momentum, it’s crucial we look back over the journey much of this work has taken and apply the lessons learnt as we continue to work towards closing the gaps.

Watch the presentation given by Ilyas Nagdee

Watch the answers to the questions to received from Ilyas’s presentation


Student Panellists and Facilitators

They had discussions about the various partnerships and projects they have been involved with in their various institutions and discussed different strategies to encourage partnerships between Staff and Students.

Watch their discussion here

Maisha Islam

  • Centre for Student Engagement Administrator at the University of Winchester
    Panel Facilitator
    Maisha Islam graduated with a 1st Class Honours degree in Sociology from the University of Winchester in 2017. She is now a part-time Masters student on the Social Research in
    Education programme at Winchester alongside working for their Centre for Student Engagement. In addition to managing the University’s central signposting service to student opportunities (the ‘Get Involved Button’) and services related to the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR), Maisha is involved in research looking at the experiences of minority student groups at university. For example, Maisha has conducted research (and is continuing research) looking at Muslim student experience and sense of belonging.

E. Okobi

  • MSc in Applied Psychology of Fashion
    London College of Fashion (LCF), University of the Arts, London (UAL)
    Panel Facilitator
    Ekene “E” Okobi is an interdisciplinary artist who blends writing, performance, education and research into experiences designed to provoke compassionate dialogue. She is also a freelance journalist. Okobi studied on the MSc Applied Psychology in Fashion course at the University of the Arts, London (UAL) London College of Fashion (LCF) from 2017-18. Okobi’s practice as an educator, learner and colleague was greatly enriched by her experiences as a member of Creative Mindsets, the UAL Changing Mindsets team that brought Growth Mindset and Implicit workshops to all six UAL colleges.

Angel Layer

  • University of Portsmouth
    Hi, I’m Angel. I am currently undertaking my final year of Law with International Relations at the University of Portsmouth following my placement year as the Vice President of Education and Democracy at the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union. As sabbatical officer I worked on increasing diversity, through representation but also in supporting students from a range of backgrounds better. This was achieved through creating a regular BAME network and running a Women in Leadership event. Since finishing my work as VP , I have remained involved in projects across the university including the Changing Mindsets project and other union led programmes too.

Joel Simpson

  • University of the Arts, London
    Joel Simpson is an artist whose work has addressed structural marginalisation enacted by universities both inside their own institutional spaces, and outside, upon local communities, as more universities enter “strategic partnerships” with property development companies to facilitate social housing demolition. Graduating from Chelsea College of Arts in 2018, Simpson’s work is informed by his participation in the UAL Creative Mindsets project, and its ability to inspire collaborative student criticality interrogating the coloniality of higher education.

Fiona Bazzoni

  • University of Brighton Graduate Intern for Centre for
    Learning and Teaching
    Hi, I’m Fiona – recent graduate from BA Primary Education at the University of Brighton. Since leaving my undergraduate course, I am now working as a Graduate Intern within the Student Academic Success and Partnership team (SASP) in our Centre for Learning and Teaching here at Brighton, and due to begin MA Education next academic year. During my undergraduate degree, I was heavily involved in the University’s peer mentoring scheme, PASS, which I now have the pleasure of organising under my Intern role. Early into my degree, I realised that Primary teaching was not the career goal I had in mind, so my role in the SASP team revolves strongly around helping students feel comfortable in their environment, and understanding that their success doesn’t just come from academic performance.

Sam Jenkins

  • Second Year History Student, the University of Winchester
    Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) Leader
    Sam is a second year history student at the University of Winchester. As a participant of the Student Fellows Scheme during his first year, he joined a student-staff partnership in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty to assess the provision of digital capabilities in relation to graduate employability. Sam is continuing to represent the student voice in the development of technology within higher education as a Student Partner at Jisc. He is one of five Peer Assisted Learning Leaders for History, leading the development of shared strategies with first year historians to improve and harness academic skills. Sam is also Volunteering and Community Officer at Winchester Student Union, where he is campaigning to increase student engagement and awareness in volunteering and fundraising initiatives.












Change in Progress : Mindsets Project Conference at SRHE
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