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How do different

activities affect

We chose this question because one of the development targets for the maths faculty this year is developing growth mind-sets. In maths, we often find that students struggle with more open ended ‘problem solving’ tasks where their first reaction is often to say they ‘can’t do it’ or to ask teachers to ‘tell them what to do’. We were keen to support students in being more resilient and less teacher reliant. Specifically, we wanted to see what teaching strategies might help to promote greater resilience in pupils when attempting group work.


Actions taken with rationale

approaches to structuring group work 

resilience and progress in mathematical problem solving?

We tested three different strategies for delivering group problem solving lessons. We worked with the same higher ability year 7 class each time and used similar extended ‘card sort’ problem solving activities. 1) In the first session, we explained the purpose of our study and explained the ‘growth mind-set’ idea to students, focusing on its importance in successful maths problem solving. We then gave students the first task without providing any further structure so that we could see how successful they were tackling a task without any supporting structure. 2) In the second session, we gave group roles to the students to encourage participation and help them organise a systematic and inclusive approach. These roles were the organiser, the recorder, the ‘spy’ and the presenter. 3) In the third session, we used an ‘expert group’ activity before the main task. This allowed each student to bring a specific skill to the group problem solving task. This supported peer reliance and independence from the teacher as students worked on the task.

A Hall
 M Lewis
 C Reay


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Illumination: An Enlightened Enquiry  

Illumination: An Enlightened Enquiry