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Creating a Growth Mindset with Formative Assessment

By 17/04/2023May 24th, 2024No Comments

Jonathan Willcox, Head of Geography at Halliford School in Surrey

Educake is a great tool to assess student knowledge and understanding while also reducing teachers’ marking workload. On top of this, our department uses Educake to encourage a growth mindset.

What’s a growth mindset?

It means that students take pride in their effort rather than their ability. This leads to increased motivation and success, regardless of the student’s initial knowledge or talent.

Bad Habits

Individual students respond differently to online assessment tools. Here are some typical responses you might see from students who are struggling with their confidence.

The Quitter: Gets a low score on their first attempt, becomes demotivated and either gives up, or attempts to avoid a low score by relying on peers.

The Corner Cutter: Rushes their first attempt, then ‘cheats’ by copying correct answers to get 100% in their next attempt.

The Box Ticker: Gets a ‘good enough’ score to complete the task but quickly forgets what they’ve learnt and coasts through the course, never challenging themselves to do their best.

Our Solution – Average Score

We wanted our system of assessment to reward effort, so we developed an average score strategy to disrupt these bad habits.

Rules: Students can take a quiz as many times as they like, and the average percentage of all their attempts becomes their score for that homework task. The grade boundaries are as follows:

Grade 9 – 95%+
Grade 8 – 90-94%
Grade 7 – 85-89%
Grade 6 – 80-84%
Grade 5 – 70-79%
Grade 4 – 60-69%
Grade 3 – 50-59%
Grade 2 – 40-49%
Grade 1 – 30-39%

Why such high grade boundaries?

Since Educake consists of short-answer questions, we set these well above typical GCSE grade boundaries. This is because students need to be unshakeable in their foundational knowledge to secure the top grades at GCSE.

In addition, we find that when we set expectations high, students rise to the challenge, with an interesting twist in results that we were not expecting…

What was the result?

Some students took time over their answers and tried to get the highest score possible in their first attempt, so it was easier for them to achieve a higher average with fewer attempts. This helped disrupt the pattern for the Corner Cutters and the Box Tickers in particular. It also reinforced the important exam technique of reading the questions carefully before answering

Other students were less careful on their first attempt or had not understood the content covered in the lesson quite as well. Either way, they were able to improve their score if they learnt from their mistakes and repeated the quiz enough times to improve their overall average – a huge motivation boost for the Quitters.

In either scenario, there was no limit on the grade that students could achieve. The only limit is their level of effort and time to devote to achieving that grade.

What was the twist?

We expected the more conscientious students to do well in these assessments, and sure enough, they do. What was interesting was that when we shared everyone’s results with the whole class, the students who may have thought of themselves as low achievers were getting the same results as those at the top of their class. When our students could really see that every grade was achievable through effort, it motivated the entire cohort and created a healthy sense of competition.

We have found that using Educake with an average score strategy has fostered a growth mindset in our students through which they can take ownership of their learning and improve outcomes.

Top Tip

To view your students’ scores for each attempt on a particular quiz, choose “Attempts view”. You can also export the results as a spreadsheet.