Barry Sheridan

Technical Education

St. Ambrose High

  • Assessment For Learning

What Happens When Checklists are Introduced for Self-Assessment?


The case for formative assessment and its parent ideology, Assessment For Learning, was made by Black and Wiliam (1998). Their extensive literature analysis showed that formative assessment produced “significant and often substantial learning gains” (Black and Wiliam, 1998b, p140). Hattie (2012) concurred and demonstrated that formative assessment was the most vital intervention that a teacher could make to improve a student’s learning. Several formative assessment techniques exist (Brent, 2014) and each has its merits.

A challenging S.2 class was chosen to participate in this Practitioner Enquiry. This particular class regularly exhibited difficult, disruptive behaviour and contained a very wide mix of more and less able pupils. The intention was to find a formative assessment process to improve both ability and behaviour. Cauley and McMillan (2009) had looked at formative assessment techniques which boost student motivation and achievement. They stated that self-assessment was one of the highest orders of formative feedback and concluded that ​properly executed self-assessment gave students a greater sense of ownership in instructional activities.

The Assessment Reform Group (2002) said that “properly executed” assessment should be built upon clearly communicated learning goals. Furthermore, Wiliam (2011) stated that the process of assessment must be constructive, task-specific and properly timed to ensure that it’s received with the mindfulness that is required for effective progress.


The aim of the Practitioner Enquiry, therefore, was to create a self-assessment activity which was specific to each pupil and built upon learning intentions and success criteria. Ultimately the purpose of this activity was to see what happened to pupils’ success and behaviour when self-assessment checklists were introduced.

Download Practitioner Enquiry