Olivia McCann

Primary Teacher

Gartcosh Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

Using Traffic Lights as a Form of Self-Assessment to Inform the Next Steps in Learning & Teaching


Formative assessment, also termed assessment ​for​ learning, is evidently valued by many theorists and practitioners as a tool to support pupils’ progression. Many have contributed and critiqued a variety of strategies for use in the classroom (Black & Wiliam, 1998; Black & Wiliam, 2004; Harris, 2007; Bryce, 2013). Building the Curriculum 5 recognises one purpose of assessment to “inform future improvements in learning and teaching (The Scottish Government, 2010, p. 10).

The specific reasoning behind this particular enquiry is based on a personal interest which has been sparked by reading the work of Clarke (2005). Clarke states that self-assessment not only enables learners to critique their work more freely but when implemented consistently, can provide them with the skills to identify their next steps in learning and ultimately enable children to be leaders of their own learning. Additionally, taking ownership of their learning permits students to become self-regulating and autonomous, which is essential to intrinsic motivation and progression. In setting their own targets, pupils are afforded this opportunity of responsibility and adults become the guardians needed for progression from the zone of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978).

In both Harris’ and Wylie & Lyons’ articles on implementation of formative assessment principles, they acknowledge the need for initial teacher guidance and support in developing pupils’ target setting skills (Harris 2007, Wylie and Lyon 2015). To do this, learning intentions should be shared or co-constructed with clarity and focus on what learning should be achieved by the end of the activity. This is supported by Cowie’s findings that students who focus on learning goals, rather than performance goals, viewed assessment for learning as the joint

responsibility of teacher and pupil (Cowie 2005). The following section will outline the way in which I have used this to inform my own practice throughout this enquiry.


  1. To measure the effectiveness of self-assessment on learning and next steps for improvement.
  2. To evaluate if self-assessment enables children to become positive and active contributors by taking ownership of their own learning.
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