In the previous workshop, we learned about the rationale for Assessment for Learning and received a brief overview of its key components. In this unit, we are going to discuss the first two steps to implementing Assessment for Learning: Learning Intentions & Success Criteria.
Despite building learning intentions into our planners, we are not good at sharing learning intentions and success criteria with our pupils. But at the same time, we want our pupils to be self-motivated, have a sense of purpose, etc. To give our pupils the tools they need to take more responsibility for their own learning and achieve greater learning independence, we need to communicate to them: what they are going to learn; why they should learn it in the first place; and how they will recognise when they have succeeded. Research shows that pupils who regularly receive this information in the classroom are: more focused for longer periods of time; more motivated; and better able to take responsibility for their own learning. Assessment for Learning, and particularly these first two steps in the process, immediately involves pupils with their own learning and offers opportunities for key interactions between pupils and teachers. These two elements of AfL are also important because if learners do not know what they are expected to learn and how to recognise their own success, then we cannot promote peer-/self-assessment, which are two other elements of AfL (to be covered in a later unit) as well as being important life skills.
Establishing success criteria is an important part of Assessment for Learning for a number of reasons. First of all It improves pupils’ understanding by keeping them informed about how they will be assessed. This, in turn, empowers pupils because it involves them in their own performance and learning. In time, pupils who have experience of working to success criteria and contributing to the development of success criteria are more apt to take an independent approach to learning, as they understand how the criteria apply to their learning. They then are able to use these to assess their own achievements, address their own concerns and identify areas for improvement. Success criteria also allow you and the pupils to give accurate feedback – they keep you and the pupils focused on the criteria that the work will be assessed against.
So what are success criteria? What does success look like? Success criteria let pupils know if they have achieved the learning intention. They summarise the main teaching points ( key ingredients ) or processes ( key steps ) which link directly to the learning intention.
Quality success criteria are characterised by these features: They are closely linked to the learning intention . They are specific to the activity and will vary with each activity, even if the activities share a common learning intention. They are agreed with the pupils in advance. This discussion aspect is particularly important in the classroom. First, it helps foster a positive classroom environment. It also gets pupils involved in the learning and upcoming activity even before it’s begun. It can also help build pupil self-esteem by offering them opportunities to contribute. And it is a useful tool to strengthen the pupil-teacher relationship. They encourage responsibility and independence by scaffolding peer- and self-assessment. They are revisited and used to provide pupils with feedback on their learning. This feedback can be provided by both you and the pupils themselves. Remember to follow through, though, and only assess the pupils on what has been agreed.
When creating the success criteria, it is important to focus on process and characteristics rather than the final effect. In this example, there are two sets of suggested success criteria. Which set is more helpful to pupils? The criteria ‘I will be successful if people enjoy reading my story’ and ‘it frightens them’ are not success criteria because they focus on reaction rather than guidance on how to achieve the effect … that is, guidance on how to write a narrative. You can see that the success criteria listed on the right, however, provide pupils with the key ingredients needed to show that they fulfil the learning intention. If they can do these things, then they have shown they understand how to write a narrative.
Here are a few more examples of good, relevant success criteria.
We’ve nearly completed this unit, but before we conclude, I’d like everyone to think about all that we’ve discussed so far and to recap in what ways using Learning Intentions and Success Criteria benefit pupils. Who would like to offer a suggestion? (Pause to allow comments, then move to next slide.)
Here are some pupil benefits, which were identified by teachers involved in the NI Action Research Project, 2005 What about benefits to teachers? Do you see this process as having value to us? (Pause to allow comments, then move to next slide.)
Here are some of the teacher benefits as identified by teachers involved in the NI Action Research Project, 2005
In closing, here are a few key points to remember about Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.
T&L Success Criteria
Why Are Learning Objectives and Success Criteria Important? ‘ If learners are to take more responsibility for their own learning, then they need to know what they are going to learn, how they will recognise when they have succeeded and why they should learn it in the first place.’ - (An Intro to AfL, Learning Unlimited, 2004) Learning Objectives ‘ What ’ and ‘ Why ’ Success Criteria ‘ How to recognise success’
Why Are Success Criteria Important? <ul><li>Improve understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Empower pupils </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage independent learning </li></ul><ul><li>Enable accurate feedback </li></ul>
What Are Success Criteria? ‘… success criteria summarise the key steps or ingredients the student needs in order to fulfil the learning intention – the main things to do, include or focus on.’ - Shirley Clarke
Effective Success Criteria… <ul><li>are linked to the learning objective; </li></ul><ul><li>are specific to an activity; </li></ul><ul><li>are discussed and agreed with pupils prior to undertaking the activity; </li></ul><ul><li>provide a scaffold and focus for pupils while engaged in the activity; and </li></ul><ul><li>are used as the basis for feedback and peer-/self-assessment. </li></ul>
Effective Success Criteria <ul><li>I will be successful if: </li></ul><ul><li>set the scene in the opening paragraph; </li></ul><ul><li>build up tension/suspense; </li></ul><ul><li>use spooky adjectives and powerful verbs; and </li></ul><ul><li>end with a cliffhanger. </li></ul><ul><li>I will be successful if: </li></ul><ul><li>people enjoy reading my story; and </li></ul><ul><li>it frightens them. </li></ul>Activity: Write a ghost story. Learning Objective: To demonstrate an understanding of the ways in which a narrative can be developed.
Additional Examples <ul><li>Remember to… </li></ul><ul><li>count from the minute hand </li></ul><ul><li>stop where the minute hand finishes </li></ul><ul><li>count in fives </li></ul><ul><li>go clockwise </li></ul><ul><li>Remember to… </li></ul><ul><li>include opening and closing statements </li></ul><ul><li>give reasons for and against </li></ul><ul><li>use evidence to support </li></ul><ul><li>use language to persuade </li></ul>To understand how to calculate the passing of time in 5-minute intervals. To understand the ways in which to present an argument.
Recapping the Benefits <ul><li>How does the use of Learning Objectives and Success Criteria benefit pupils? </li></ul>
Benefits for Pupils (Findings from Teacher Researchers) ‘ Children are more focused and interested, creating a positive learning culture. Their self-esteem is improving also.’ ‘ We have given children the vocabulary to discuss their own work.’ ‘ Success can now be achieved by all, even the weakest children!’ ‘ Pupils are beginning to talk more about how they are learning rather than what they are learning.’
Benefits for Teachers (Findings from Teacher Researchers) ‘ Sharing learning intentions and success criteria at the beginning of the lessons has resulted in teacher and pupils working more in partnership towards a common goal.’ ‘ I’m more sensitive to individuals’ needs/achievements.’ ‘ Relationships between teacher and pupils are warmer and more positive.’ ‘ My planning is more effective/focused/ thoughtful.’
Summary <ul><li>To take more responsibility for their own learning, pupils need to know: </li></ul><ul><li>what they are going to learn; </li></ul><ul><li>how they will recognise when they have succeeded; and </li></ul><ul><li>why they should learn it in the first place. </li></ul>
Summary cont. <ul><li>Using Learning Objectives and Success Criteria: </li></ul><ul><li>creates more self-motivated pupils; </li></ul><ul><li>empowers pupils to become independent learners; </li></ul><ul><li>improves understanding; and </li></ul><ul><li>can help focus feedback. </li></ul><ul><li>This isn’t all new </li></ul><ul><li>but we need to be more systematic about using these approaches in our classrooms. </li></ul>