Sarah Bain

Primary Teacher

Cumbernauld Primary School

  • Assessment For Learning

How do different plenary approaches affect learning outcomes?


Within the entirety of Scottish education, assessment has increasingly become an important focus. Assessment is for Learning (AfL) approaches play a crucial role in all classroom practice and the application of various unique approaches to AfL aims to motivate learners and provide them with positive and regular feedback from teachers (Scottish Government, 2005). Moreover, differentiation in such assessment creates a classroom environment in which pupils can explore their different learning styles and be given support and challenge (McMahon et al, 2011).

The purpose of this research was to explore the role the plenary plays in supporting assessment of the learning outcome, and to identify whether a specific plenary style was most effective in reinforcing this learning. Gipps, Hargreaves and McCallum (2016) argue that plenaries can be highly effective, and in particular during lessons “where basic number skills or writing are being practised” reinforcement of learning fundamental to pupils’ understanding and ensuring learning is embedded. Furthermore, AfL claims that consolidation and deeper thinking regarding learning outcomes will take place if effective questioning and feedback have been applied to the lesson. This particular research undertook one plenary approach in which discussion and reflection upon learning was the focus. AfL contests that pupils should “Understand clearly what they are trying to learn and what is expected of them” (Scottish Government 2005) thus the plenary approach applied was one in which pupils were encouraged to think deeply about the learning intention.


  • To assess the impact of a discussion-based plenary session on pupils’ learning outcome.
  • To evaluate the impact of a consistent plenary on pupils’ confidence in their own learning.
Download Practitioner Enquiry