Assessment for learning (AiFL) has been a significant component of Curriculum for Excellence and has been influential in tracking and monitoring children’s understanding in order to influence next steps (Hopfenbeck, 2020). Assessment for learning is designed to focus students on learning. It is used to improve student engagement in learning and to support better quality learning outcomes (Hopfenbeck, T. 2020). It is critical that AiFL strategies directly impact children during their learning and allow children a chance to better understand their own learning. The careful monitoring of student progress is one of the major factors differentiating effective schools and teachers from ineffective schools (McLean, 2003). Check-in activities used by teachers to keep track of student learning ranges. These behaviours include questioning students during classroom discussions to check their understanding of what is being taught, circulating around the classroom and engaging in one-to-one contact with students and providing feedback about their work (McLean, 2003).
Within Assessment for learning, success criteria can be predetermined. It is a list of features that a teacher would like a child to include in their work during the course of the lesson. It is a significant way of making children aware of their own learning and keeps children on track to achieve a learning outcome. However, often the success criteria is predetermined and static within the lesson. This in turn, is disengaging for children who often forget to use success criteria to inform their learning. Thus, regular check-ins are useful for motivating children during their learning in order to improve attainment.
Vygotsky’s Zone of proximal development supports the use of regular check-ins. This social constructivist approach on learning highlights the importance of the role of social interactions on children’s ability to retain information (Silver, 2011) and thus improve pupil attainment and outcomes. Further, Vygotsky’s theory on the knowledgeable other states that adults are an important source of cognitive development thus further highlighting the significance of verbal check-ins (McLeod, 2003). In line with the views of Alan McLean, classrooms are more likely to engage learners if they nurture three factors, namely ‘I belong’ feelings, ‘can do’ beliefs and ‘want to’ attitudes. Thus, providing regular check-ins using a pre-determined success criteria should improve engagement in learning amongst children and thus in turn improve attainment.
The overarching aim of this enquiry is to evaluate the impact of regular check-ins using a pre-determined success criteria on pupil attainment. In particular, this enquiry will focus on the effect of verbal and written check-in’s on children’s engagement and motivation in learning, thus increasing their attainment.