Action Research Area: Self-assessment in relation to a WALT Autumn 2017-Spring 2018
Researcher: F Corbett (Winchcombe Abbey Primary)
Context: Year 2, all subject areas
Desired Outcomes: To analyse how pupils reflect upon their learning and how accurately they can do this at 6/7 years old. To provide pupils with the language skills and confidence needed to self-assess and reflect upon their learning accurately.
Method 1: General observations made of four pupils. Notes made about their ability to engage within a lesson, the way in which they verbalise their thoughts and then how they can summarise what they have learned and what their challenges were within a lesson or an activity.
Method 2: Dylan Williams’ suggested approach of ‘Student Reporter’ mixed with the strategy of ‘Secret Student’. Before a session begins, the teacher will pick a pupil at random. The name of this pupil will not be shared. At the end of the session, post-plenary, the name of the ‘Learning Reporter’ (termed within our context) will be shared and it is this pupil’s responsibility to share the intended learning outcome for the session (WALT), how they achieved it successfully or what challenged them and the certain area in which they need to practise further.
The aim of the observations was to see how the pupils currently engaged with their learning and how they responded to self-assessment style questions. I deliberately chose four pupils who I knew were currently finding it challenging to verbalise their self-assessment or found it difficult to make these assessments in the first place. During a Maths lesson, all four of these pupils found it difficult to verbalise how they had been successful in their learning and, when asked about moving forward, responded with comments such as ‘do more practising’ etc. The ambiguity and vagueness of their answers told me that we needed something to ensure these pupils were getting maximum opportunities to be responsible for their learning and verbalise their self-reflections.
Once the observations had been made, the research was begun by introducing the ‘Learning Reporter’ role and asking the pupils what they thought would make a good learning reporter. Nearly all pupils agreed that learning reporters should work “well with their learning partner” because team work helps us to learn. Many pupils explained that ‘good’ Learning Reporters would need to listen well during a lesson and contribute during whole class discussions. Some pupils suggested that Learning Reporters would need to have the confidence to tell the class what went well and what they would need to improve on to help further their learning. Straight away it emerged that the majority of my class already understood how one would be successful at evaluating their learning, it was just a matter of allowing the opportunities for the rehearsal of these conversations to happen.
Following this discussion, we came up with four key questions that would be asked of the Learning Reporter:
• What were we learning about today?
• What helped you to learn?
• What do you need more practise with?
• How did your learning partner get on today? (dependent upon activity)
It was made clear that the Learning Reporter had a responsibility to engage well during lessons and think carefully about what they were learning and what helped them to learn. Due to the Learning Reporter being chosen secretly, I noticed an increase in pupil engagement and contributions to discussions, as the pupils were aware that any one of them could be asked to evaluate their learning.
I have found that the Learning Reporter approach has provided many pupils with an opportunity to speak openly and honestly in front of the class about their strengths and areas of improvement, which ties well with the work we are continually doing upon ‘Growth Mindsets’. I was concerned that some pupils with higher abilities in some areas may respond to the ‘What do you need more practise with?’ questions with answers such as ‘nothing’. However, due to our work on ‘Growth Mindset’ all pupils were able to offer something they could further their learning with. The Learning Reporter responsibility gives pupils the vocabulary needed to answer self-assessment style questions.
I wanted to explore this strategy as a way in to providing my pupils with the opportunity to talk about their learning. In response to evaluative questions about self-assessment I so often heard my pupils say something along the lines of, ‘Yep, I can do this’ or, ‘I worked with my learning partner’ rather than being able to pin-point what it was they learned or the exact method or object that helped them to learn it. I am aware that age and language development have a large part to play in this but I am sure that the Learning Reporter strategy has already impacted upon this greatly. Now, many of my pupils are able to explain what they have learned/not learned yet and what helped them to learn. This explanation of learning and verbal self-assessment is key and I believe that the Learning Reporter strategy is a good starting block for the development of this – if only that it provides the time to allow for this self-assessment and reflection of learning to take place.
I am certain that my class have enjoyed this approach to learning as, on one busy occasion, I forgot to reveal the learning reporter and many pupils asked “When are you doing the Learning Reporter, Miss Corbett?” I also heard them say: “I hope I’m the learning reporter today”. The fact that the pupils are holding positive views about assessing and evaluating their learning gives me reassurance that this strategy has benefited the pupils far more than I initially thought it might.
1. Pupils enjoyed the responsibility that this strategy brings
2. The Learning Reporter ensures that pupils are given dedicated time to evaluate and reflect upon their learning and opportunities to practise the language needed for this (and to have it modelled to them)
3. Pupils are even more engaged within their learning because they may be asked to report on it at the end of a session