Mindset over Matter (Mindsets in Assessment)

Spotting mindsets in test results is an excellent skill to build as it can help you further tailor the feedback and support you provide to help each student meet their individual goals.
Reading Time: 3 minutes
March 5, 2021

Maths Pathway is unique in the mastery-based approach to assessment. Students need to learn that modules they are unsuccessful in cannot be swept under the carpet (a harder lesson for some than for others!). Spotting mindsets in test results is an excellent skill to build as it can help you further tailor the feedback and support you provide to help each student meet their individual goals. 

There are a couple of red flags to keep an eye out for when you are looking over student data. At a surface level you get a feeling for how your students are tracking by looking at their test results. You’ll find this report under the data tab. Keep an eye out for low growth, low effort, and/or low accuracy. If a student’s data caught your eye, you can delve more deeply into their learning history by clicking on their name to access their individual student report

One of the first signs that might jump out at you is modules marked as ‘quit’. This can be a symptom of a fixed mindset. If a student does not believe they can succeed at this maths they may back out of the module without actually attempting the work. By clicking on the ‘details’ button you can even see how long they had the module open before quitting!  Another, less well-known symptom of a fixed mindset is a student who is not willing to engage in work that they deem to be  ‘too easy’. This might manifest in their individual student report, as modules that have been completed too quickly, or by looking into their workbook you might discover that they only attempted the first few questions before adding the module to their test. If the student is able to master these modules marked as ‘fast’ that’s a sign that their mindset impacted their ability to participate in the diagnostic

If they are not mastering these modules then their mindset is impacting their ability to engage with these modules. You’ll need to dig deep to find the cause of this issue and depending on the student the solution can be anything from showing them their curriculum grid, to helping to confirm that this is a gap in knowledge, or building stronger revision or reflection practices into your classroom workflow. Another way that fixed mindset can manifest is in students’ avoiding of topics that seem ‘hard’ or modules that look like ‘too much work’. Examples of this could look like a student avoiding fractions to spend more time in data or intentionally backing out of modules with worded questions. 

Being incorrect on a concept that in their eye is ‘easy’ or ‘low level’ might damage a student’s self-confidence, could impact their engagement in learning, and will result in them ‘getting stuck’ on modules. A mastery approach means that students do not move past work until they have demonstrated a complete understanding. It’s worth keeping an eye on the Targeted Intervention Report - you can plan to help students who are getting stuck on a particular module. This is where the teacher really can step to the forefront of the model and where you can use data to inform the actions you take in the classroom.

By making sure that students understand why they are getting this maths we have a better chance of them engaging in filling gaps in their knowledge and seeking challenges in areas they used to shy away from.  At each stage of correcting these mindset issues, it’s worth thinking about how to place value on progress and effort over attainment. By breaking down biases around needing to work hard at maths to succeed you’ll be assisting your students in unlocking opportunities and behaviours that they haven’t had the chance to value before. As always the best source of information on student learning is the student themselves so while you might find the red flags in their data the best way to find solutions is to chat with the student themself. 

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