Education specialist Dylan Wiliam has persistently highlighted the detrimental effects of disengagement within the classroom. In an effort to combat this he developed formative assessment techniques to improve engagement and attainment. (Wiliam, 1998) Disengagement can occur for a number of different reasons for learners. However, a common factor leading to disengagement is the lack of opportunities within lessons for learners to recognise and assess progress made. (Andrade, 2009) Accordingly, learners cannot effectively regulate their learning or attainment. In order to support learners in this process of self-regulation teachers must effectively embed Assessment is for Learning (AiFL) techniques – such as self-assessment – within lessons. This will enhance the learners’ ability to reflect on their progress and provide teachers with insight into their learners’ current understanding before progression is made, ensuring success can be both visualised and achieved. Furthermore, if said techniques are embedded effectively, teachers can evaluate the impact of their practice from the learners’ perspective thus are more informed in their ability to increase attainment and engagement within their classroom. (Hattie, 2009).
‘Know thy impact’ is a practice introduced by education researcher John Hattie in his book, Visible Learning. (Hattie, 2009) In order for educators to truly understand the impact of their teaching and learning practice they must ask the experts – no not the PT, DHT or HT – the learners, those who experience the delivery of teaching and learning every day! So how do you ask the learners if you are meeting their needs? Hattie conducted a meta-analysis of around 800 other meta-analyses to come up with a ranked list of the effects of learning and teaching and pupil influences on achievement. It was found that self-assessment was one of the effective qualities in making learning visible for learners. Constructing opportunities to visualise the learning, and subsequent progress, through the learners’ eyes is essential to increasing attainment and checkpoints could arguably provide this opportunity. (Hattie, 2009) Consequently, it seemed appropriate to explore the incorporation of regular checkpoints within lessons as a method of providing meaningful self-assessment and to check for understanding in learner attainment of pre-determined success criteria.
Our primary aim is to explore what happens when the success criteria is made more visible to learners within the lesson – through the use of incorporating regular checkpoints.
Our secondary aim is to understand if learners engage well with the introduction of regular checkpoints during learning. The hope was that learners would be receptive to this checkpoint in order for it to effectively enhance their learning experience.