Rebecca Nelson

Primary Teacher

Chryston Primary

  • Assessment For Learning

What Happens When Pupils Set Their Own Targets in the Classroom?


The Scottish Government has made vital recommendations in an attempt to raise attainment in Scotland and reduce maths anxiety across both adults and children. Findings from the Making Maths Count Group identified an increasing concern in maths anxiety with “30% of Scottish learners reported that they feel very tense and nervous when doing maths work and more than 50% worry that maths will be difficult” (Scottish Government, 2016). The Scottish Attainment Challenge aims to improve literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing across seven local authorities, including North Lanarkshire, primarily focussing on areas with high levels of deprivation (Scottish Government, 2019). Furthermore, within the school I currently work in, numeracy is a main priority on the School Improvement Plan, aiming to increase numeracy ability within the school. The school had also begun using North Lanarkshire’s Number Talks resource in an attempt to increase pupil’s ability and confidence in talking about number and number strategies. In turn, I felt, with the focus on numeracy across the Authority and within my employed school, that it was suitable for me to investigate whether pupils would be more confident in using mathematical language, specifically when self- assessing their work through setting their own success criteria. Furthermore, I primarily focussed on pupils’ ability to self-assess as a study conducted by McMillan and Hearn (2008) found that when pupils set their own goals and reflect and monitor their work, it can improve their performance and results along with their motivation to achieve.


This study aims to investigate whether pupils’ language for self-assessment changes when they create their own success criteria.

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