Rachel Bell

Religious Education

Airdrie Academy

  • Assessment For Learning

What happens when a ‘no hands approach’ is used in the Classroom?


This enquiry is based on an observation of what happens when teachers implement a no hands approach when engaging the class in whole class discussion. A no hands approach is a method of questioning whereby the teacher will not accept pupils offering their own answers. It can be used to encourage the whole class to become involved in the lesson, as well as ensuring pupils are taking responsibility for their own learning. Good classroom dialogue is a key feature of Assessment is for Learning and Black and Wiliam (1998: 11) echo this, stating “dialogue with the teacher provides the opportunity for the teacher to respond and reorient the pupil’s thinking”. However, if a typical hands up approach is used, then there is the danger of pupils becoming disengaged by simply keeping their hands down (Leahy et al., 2005). Wiliam (1998) suggests that an outcome of teachers altering their questioning techniques will be that they are more aware of a pupil’s prior knowledge of a topic, as well as any misconceptions, and therefore more adequately equipped to meet the learner’s needs.


Through this enquiry, the effect of varying questioning techniques to facilitate class discussion will be observed. It aims to highlight how involving every pupil in the discussion can have an effect on pupils’ engagement and involvement during the lesson and therefore improve the learning experience for both pupil and teacher. By randomising pupils in the form of the “lollipop stick” technique, this study will attempt to establish the changes in pupil progress and involvement in the lesson when the element of individual accountability is introduced.

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