University of Portsmouth

Changing Mindsets: Reducing stereotype threat and implicit bias as barriers to student success

Led by the University of Portsmouth, Changing Mindsets is a student and staff intervention focused on closing the attainment gap for black and minority ethnic (BME) students and students from low socio-economic backgrounds.

Changing Mindsets is a collaborative project led by the University of Portsmouth and in partnership with University of the Arts London, Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Brighton and the University of Winchester.

Changing Mindsets is a student and staff workshop-based intervention that builds a growth mindset: the belief that ability develops through effort and by embracing challenge.

The intervention aims to close the attainment gap in student experience, retention, progression, academic attainment and employability by changing mindsets and eroding stereotype threat and implicit bias as barriers to learning.

The intervention is focused on closing the attainment gap for two student populations:

University of Portsmouth changing mindsets project
  • socio-economically disadvantaged students
  • black and minority ethnic (BME) students.

Additionally, there will be demonstrable benefits for other student groups.

The intervention, by design, is flexible and adaptable. While there are key learning outcomes, each university is empowered to embed the intervention in a way that fits with their institutional needs and existing programmes.

The Changing Mindsets intervention and evaluation is underpinned by psychological, sociological, and educational theories.

The intervention will address the impact of mindset, stereotype threat and implicit bias on student retention, progression, experience and attainment, by focusing on the macro, meso and micro levels:

  • Macro: Exploring socio-historical and cultural stereotypes around factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, age and social background and supporting the development of Growth Mindset beliefs in staff and students that are mutually exclusive to fixed attainment stereotypes 
  • Meso: Exploring the implicit bias of staff and students within institutions that form the social contexts within which BME and students from low socio-economic backgrounds learn, and using ‘habit breaking’ techniques shown to be effective to erode implicit bias
  • Micro: Exploring students’ own salient identities that result from individual student and staff interactions in the HE environment, that may make them prone to stereotype threat, supporting them to develop personal coping strategies and beliefs in order to support resilience and persistence in the face of challenging situations. 

Catalyst funding 

Total project funding £1,570,441
Project contact name Professor Sherria Hoskins and Dr Jessica Gagnon 
Project contact email [email protected]
Project contact telephone 023 9284 5316 
Project twitter @MindsetsProject
Project website

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