Lucy Sinclair

Primary Teacher

Baird Memorial Primary

  • Cooperative Learning

What Happens When We Explicitly Set Social Learning Intentions in a Classroom?


As a teacher, communicating clear and concise learning intentions is a mandatory learning and teaching experience incorporated throughout daily lessons (Curriculum for Excellence, 2011). Research shows that pupils learning is more effective when they are provided with ‘thinking pathways’ and ways to success. Williams (2019) states that clarifying, sharing and understanding learning intentions are crucial for pupil engagement. Pupils must be aware of what they are learning, its purpose and how they will be successful. The important truth is that not all pupils are motivated (Williams, 2019). Pupils need to be engaged and infused which is best achieved through creative, reflective and effective assessment of learning and teaching (Williams, 2015).

Hattie (2015) emphasises that pupils must be exposed to visible learning experiences. This is best achieved by showing pupils desirable behaviours and skills which is consistent throughout the lesson, not just at the end. If pupils learning is not made visible, pupils will become disengaged. Therefore, visible learning occurs when pupils know what success is before they start (for example, good listening, talking and kindness) and is consistently reflected on (Hattie, 2015).

Research suggests that learning dispositions are crucial in enhancing skills, engagement and deepened understanding. Developing learning dispositions is vital for pupils to develop an understanding of the way they learn and establish positive attitudes to learning, essential in becoming socially aware (Buckingham et al, 2012). Highly motivated pupils are often aware of their abilities to reflect upon their engagement and behaviours in order to secure optimal learning opportunities (Buckingham et al, 2012). A common goal within the classroom is for pupils to reach their social learning intention, which focuses of displaying intended social behaviours; for example, good listening, talking and kindness. These skills can be established through the implementing of a social learning intention, allowing pupils to self-assess, reflect and strive to meet their social goals.


The aims of the practitioner inquiry are:

  • To evaluate the influence social learning intentions have on pupils’ ability to display intended social behaviours (for example, good listening, talking and kindness).
  • Distinguish if social learning intentions contribute to pupil engagement and motivation.
Download Practitioner Enquiry