Clare O’Donnell

Primary Teacher

St. Edward’s Primary School

  • Assessment For Learning

What happens when a ‘no hands approach’ is used in the Classroom?


Through discussion with probationer colleagues from both the primary and secondary sector, it was apparent that a common interest in Assessment is for Learning was shared. Through further discussions with these colleagues based on observations previously conducted in our own classes, it was evident that some reoccurring issues shared by all colleagues were;

  • same students willing to answer questions
  • some students not fully engaged in lessons
  • some students do not attempt to answer questions as they know students who are keen to put their hands up to answer questions will get there first
  • many students lack confidence answering out in class.

Therefore, for our practitioner enquiry, we decided to focus on the area of Assessment is for Learning as assessment is a “natural, integral, and essential part of effective learning and teaching” (DCSF, 2008). Due to the fact Assessment is for Learning encompasses a variety of formative assessment techniques. Professor Dylan William stated that it is only when formative assessment is “properly implemented” can student engagement increase, teacher satisfaction increase and “unprecedented increase in student achievement” are produced (cited in Wiliam, 2009). Therefore, we decided that this practitioner enquiry would have a specific focus on investigating what happens when a no-hands up approach is used in the classroom. Research shows this strategy;

  • raises the level of focus in the classroom
  • stops children opting out of lessons by allowing others to answer, as no one knows who will be picked to answer the question
  • encourages everyone in the class to think about the questions asked
  • stops reinforcing the message that only right answers are wanted (wiliam, 2009).


The aims of this practitioner enquiry were to promote pupil participation from those who do not normally choose to raise their hands to participate during class discussions and during questioning. Another aim of this practitioner enquiry was to encourage whole class engagement during lessons in the hope that this would lead to improvement in pupil achievement and learning.

Download Practitioner Enquiry