By Joel Simpson, Visiting Practitioner in the Exchange’s Attainment team.
Creative Mindsets is up and running for the new academic year, with over 1,000 London College of Communication students and 500 London College of Fashion students participating in Growth Mindsets sessions (run by the Exchange Attainment team) during their Big Welcome weeks.
Creative Mindsets is a research-based project that works with students and staff to explore growth mindset strategies to overcome barriers to teaching and learning – particularly prejudice, bias and stereotyping. A growth mindset is the belief that ability can be developed through effort and by embracing challenge (Dweck, 2000), it can be taken on to tackle stereotype threat (Steele & Aronson, 1995) and micro-aggressive obstacles to community-building and creative development.
2019/20 Workshops with students
This term, students have particularly enjoyed sharing the challenges that they have overcome in arriving at UAL, and have critically questioned what they attribute these achievements to. Many students felt that deconstructing ideas of talent and intelligence was a great way to start the next chapter of their academic life, and each session ended with students enthusiastic to set goals for the new term that examine notions of risk and failure.
We were also able to develop interesting discussions about how Growth Mindsets could be applied to students’ specific courses. This set a healthy precedent for our plan to assist each UAL college in taking on the Creative Mindsets project independently and to adapt its methodology to the discipline-specific challenges they face to teaching and learning.
We have trained London College of Communication Peer Assisted Learning Mentors (PALs) and London College of Fashion alumni to co-deliver the sessions, which is also part of the plan to establish the project to run autonomously across the UAL Colleges in forthcoming years.
Launch of new Creative Mindsets Facilitators Handbook
The training we have provided to our facilitators has been aided by the launch of our Facilitator’s Handbook, which gives practical advice to students, staff and alumni about how to lead Creative Mindsets workshops across UAL. The Exchange is grateful to the 2018/19 Creative Mindsets team for their evaluative work, which has helped to shape the handbook and improve future iterations of the project.
The handbook consolidates two years of Creative Mindsets interventions, and gives a great introduction to the project for those who are not familiar with our methodology. The first chapter, ‘Being Inclusive’, gives tips on sensitively conducting conversations on equity and diversity, with recommendations on how to avoid language or imagery that promotes a student deficit model.
The second chapter, ‘Being Aware’, prepares facilitators for presenting and discussing the student case studies that are drawn upon in the workshops. It contains activities that invite facilitators to map out the lifespan of a stereotype threat and to contextualise micro-aggressions in teaching and learning within more pervasive forms of discrimination. The second chapter concludes with advice for readers on how to plan for any difficult conversations that may arise during the sessions.
The Creative Mindsets Facilitators’ Handbook is available to UAL Staff and students.
Dweck, C. S. (2000). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality, and development. Psychology Press.
Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of African Americans. Journal of personality and social psychology, 69(5), 797.