We also hear that:
Should you believe in magic?
Mike is the person behind Exam Magic®. Like all dedicated teachers he is committed to changing the lives
of young people for the better, and is convinced that his approach works.
So where are we now then?
Simple t-test results from a small data set suggest significant differences in student mindset
variables before and after the program.
Mike is well aware that without control groups the positive effects of his methods cannot be
evidenced- they might just feel differently because their school has prepared them well through
the revision and exam preparation period. To that end he is working in conjunction with the
University of Hertfordshire to investigate the effects of his methods in a properly controlled trial.
These points are pivotal to my view about Mike and his Exam Magic® program (the word ‘magic’ a
provocative one). Under examination, it is a system that seems to incorporate many of Hattie’s proven
principles for increasing achievement- namely the setting of challenging and explicit goals, active
approaches to achieving those goals, study skills development, Dweck-orientated attempts to instil the
recognition and belief of effort in young people’s minds, and a focus on engagement and motivation.
Mike has recently focussed in upon the work of Carol Dweck, and has stated that he is making more
explicit links to Mindset theory in the development of his “Exam Magic® methodology.
And the students?
I have now had the privilege of watching Mike work with a cohort of GCSE students,
and I have been very impressed with his passion to inspire them to greater things.
I recommend him to you.
Students speak very positively of Mike and his ideas- and all were complimentary
about the Exam Magic® program. Of particular power to them was the simulated
results day and the goal setting that stemmed from the process. One learner, a
person who had previously sat and failed her GCSEs, remarked after opening her
‘desired exam results’ sheet that, “I have never had a B before!”. Mike’s methods
are built around deeply remembering such powerful feelings and using them to spur
self-belief and plan effective strategies building up to the exams.
A goal-setting system to inspire self belief
Use the word pedagogy in conversation?
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So... examine the evidence
So... adopt evidence-based methods
So... enhance learning
If we can only convince our learners to embrace the belief that they can achieve, recognize the value of
effort and truly plan for their futures then we can change lives.
Exam Magic® makes the following offer:
“Exam Magic® uses ground-breaking educational and scientific techniques to teach
children core skills that aid self-understanding, raise self-esteem, set goals, visualise
exam success and cope with exam stress.”
Previously claimed results are extraordinary:
The small print is honest- it humbly tells us that the data is from, “a 2009/2010 study of 400 students
over a 2 year period.” More research is now being planned in conjunction with the University of
Exam Magic tell is that parents benefit too:
Hattie (2009) quotes an effect size of d=0.51 for the influence of parental involvement on achievement
from 11 meta-analyses based on 716 studies, illustrating a greater than average influence for the
Parental involvement looks like it offers a reasonable effect size, but ‘eight times more effective than any
other intervention’ is pushing it a bit.
Hattie provides the detail from some pivotal studies that help unpick the significance of parental
involvement. Of particular interest is the work of Crimm (1992) who examined the impact of parental
involvement on the achievement of children of different ages. The impact decreased with the age of the
learner, with an effect size of d=-0.05 reported for secondary age students! ‘Parent training’ gave an
effect size of just d=0.15.
Untested and loosely justified- could it work?
Well, could it possibly work as an intervention despite the lack of quality empirical evidence?
Is it based on elements of tested educational research?
I think so, yes.
The psychological theory underpinning “Exam Magic® is extensive, and the approach is not narrow in the
scope of theories that it is based upon: