Since 2015, the national initiative known as The Scottish Attainment Challenge has been a primary focus in Scottish schools in working towards achieving equity in education and improving the life chances for young people in the 21st century. One way to address this is by using Assessment is for Learning (AifL) strategies to focus on assessment in classrooms on a day-to-day basis as a means of enhancing learning as well as engaging learners. It is clearly outlined in the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) that ‘Learners do well when engaging fully in their learning’ (Building the Curriculum 3: A Framework for Learning and Teaching, 2008) and in their book The Highly Engaged Classroom (2011), Marzano, Pickering and Heflebower argue that student engagement in learning does not occur spontaneously – rather it is the result of a classroom teacher putting specific, effective strategies in place that are proven to foster engagement in pupils. Black and William (1998) argue that formative assessment techniques ‘can raise standards of achievement’ (p.1) and one of many ways teachers can implement this into their classrooms is by calling randomly on pupils to participate and answer questions. The problem they identify is that many pupils do not try to think out a response as either the teacher answers their own question very quickly after asking it or the answer will be given by the few pupils who always put their hand up (p.7). With this in mind, the topic of this enquiry was chosen to explore what happens when a random questioning technique is introduced in the classroom and evaluate the impact on pupil engagement, teaching and learning and the underlying aim of raising achievement and attainment.
The aim of this enquiry is to explore and evaluate what happens when a random questioning technique such as lollipop sticks is introduced in the classroom to formatively assess learning. By removing the ‘hands up’ approach, are more students engaged in the learning as they are aware they could be asked to answer the questions and participate without volunteering?