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Do Thinking Schools work?

How do we know if the ongoing process of becoming a Thinking School makes a difference?  Evidence is growing as hundreds of schools have become Thinking Schools.  Over the past ten years TSI has been gathering evidence, presented in different forms, to develop a clear picture of the benefits of our process.  The Thinking Schools Accreditation Process (TSAP) is a essential framework for ongoing assessment used by the school for monitoring and improving the implementation of the Thinking Schools design.  Because the nature of schools is complex, this formal action research design is essential for each school.  For a comprehensive view of the research on Thinking Schools and accreditation visit:

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Report on the Impact of the Thinking School Approach

Since 2005, 200 schools in the UK have gained ‘Thinking School’ accreditation from the University of Exeter by adopting a whole school approach to the teaching of thinking, embedding thinking in the heart of the school and its curriculum.  A further hundred plus schools in the UK have joined the Thinking Schools network, often facilitated and trained by consultants from Thinking Schools International.  In most cases, the journey to accreditation has taken at least three years to achieve. In September 2012, the University of Exeter and Thinking Schools International jointly funded a survey to evaluate the impact of the ‘Thinking School’ approach, as adopted by these ‘Thinking Schools’.


Report on the Impact of the Thinking School Approach

In brief, this study conducted by Exeter University shows:

  • Improved academic results

  • Improved independent learning

  • Development of higher order thinking skills

  • Greater motivation (for children and teachers)

  • Improved discipline

  • Increased attendance rates



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A Summary Report of the Regio Comenius funded ‘Developing a Thinking School: Norway to Northern Ireland’ Project and the NEELB Creating a Thinking School Pilot Project

A  two-year Regio Comenius project, led by the North Eastern Education and Library Board’s Curriculum Advisory and Support Service (NEELB) and Oslo Education Authority (UDE), focused on shared exploration of the concept of a Thinking School. The project involved Kestrel Consultancy (the UK arm of TSI) and University of Oslo, as external partners, and also included participation by staff of six Northern Irish primary schools and four Norwegian schools.  The project was completed at the end of 2012 and final report for the project was submitted  in June 2013.  Download pdf Final Report on Regio Comenius and NEELB Projects – Developing a Thinking School ~ Norway to Northern Ireland

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A comprehensive professional book on Thinking Schools from Corwin Press/ Sage International

For in depth description of the TSI theory, research, implementation design, and student centered models preview the first 50 pages of the Pathways to Thinking Schools book. This includes a Foreward by Dr. Yvette Jackson, a Preface by the editors, and the first chapter entitled "Catalyst" by Dr. David Hyerle.

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In addition, the student centered models used by TSI--Thinking Maps® and Habits of Mind®--have extensive research and documentation showing the effectiveness for individual student and whole school transformations.  Visit Thinking Foundation for comprehensive research on how Thinking Maps (cognitive process visual tools) and Habits of Mind (dispositions for individual/social/emotional thinking) work together across Thinking Schools over time.

Thinking Foundation supports research and accreditation of Thinking Schools and by conducting qualitative and quantitative research on Thinking Maps® as a foundational language for thinking, learning, teaching and leading.   In depth case studies and documentaries have been produced showing how a focus on thinking processes across whole schools and school systems is effective and transformative over time.  View the two documentaries below about school systems in the United States that have raise performance against all odds.

Minds of Mississippi

Language of the Mind

If you are interested in carrying out research or evaluative studies into Thinking Schools, we would be very interested to hear from you,  please do not hesitate to contact us .

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