Practitioner enquiry provides a way for teachers to develop a more in-depth understanding of any issue or concept that could inform their practice in the classroom and the practice of other teachers (Coleman, 2007). It was through discussion with colleagues from both the primary and secondary sector, that we recognised a shared common interest in Assessment for Learning (AfL). This was something we recognised as being a key component in the learning and teaching in the classroom. AfL is about ‘making a positive change to children’s learning’ (Scottish Government, 2005). This approach involves students becoming more active in their learning’ (Cambridge Teaching and Learning Team, Unknown) so for this to be effective pupils need to be engaged in their current learning.
Through further discussions with colleagues we noticed, through our own classroom observations, a lack of pupil engagement in some students and only a select amount of children willing to raise their hand to answer a question or contribute to discussions. This can make it difficult for the teacher to assess the children’s understanding and progress the learning further. It was suggested by Wiliam and Leahy (2015) that it is not very sensible to choose from children willing to answer to assess the understanding of the class. This is because generally children willing to raise their hand are confident they have the correct answer or response. Therefore, for this practitioner enquiry, we decided to focus on one area of AfL and investigate the effect of a no-hands up approach in the classroom.
The aim of this practitioner enquiry was to promote pupil participation and engagement in lessons. By enhancing engagement, children would be able to demonstrate their learning and have a more active role in their learning. All children could be given quality feedback on their responses which would progress learning further for all pupils and not just some.
We also aimed to see if this no-hands up approach could improve attainment in the classroom because the children are more engaged in their learning.