Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsDR.

Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsANDREA MAPPLEBECK: Hello and welcome to the question and answer session for the assessment for learning online course that's run by the National STEM Learning Centre. My name's Andrea Mapplebeck. I'm one of the educators on the course and I'm going to be here today to go through the questions we've had had submitted in the course content. So thank you very much to those of you who have taken the time to ask us questions. We really do appreciate it. And the fact that we get this opportunity to engage with you as well in this format is really good because it helps us be responsive and exemplify the practises that we talk about in the course.

Skip to 0 minutes and 38 secondsSo without further ado, I'm going to start going through the questions. And if you want to write down anything I say, I know that Matt and I-- Matt who supports me with this --we do try and put a reading list together or a reference list for you at the end. So hopefully there'll be some things that will help further develop your thinking in light of your learning on the course. So I'm going to go to some questions I've categorised on the hinge-point questions, because obviously that's one of the key approaches that we use on the course to help us think about how we can gather quality evidence from our learners, to help us become that responsive teacher in our classrooms.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 secondsSo the first question comes from Tin Tin. The question is, is it better to use in class diagnostic questions or hinge-point questions? OK. So thank you for this question. One of the things we talk about, and I know Dylan has talked about this, and I'm sure it's in the course, is that hinge-point questions are just one type of diagnostic question. So a key thing we look at across our suite of courses is this idea about decision-driven data collection, about us as teachers being purposeful about the questions that we ask of our students.

Skip to 1 minute and 48 secondsSo we don't ask too many questions but we ask questions that have got value for us in terms of us finding out what they're thinking or checking that they've got that conceptual understanding. So for us, hinge-point questions are a subset of diagnostic questions and have a particular purpose. All the diagnostic questions, and we've talked about these on the course, are questions that stimulate intentional dialogue. So we've looked at different types of questions that fall into that category. And hinge-point questions as a type of diagnostic question are a quick conceptual check for us as teachers about whether our students have understood what we have been teaching.

Skip to 2 minutes and 25 secondsAnd from that hinge-point question then we can decide what we do next and respond in our teaching. All the questions people have asked are going to unpick those things that we do as a consequence of planning for all that. So for me, in response to your question, Tin Tin, I don't think one is better than the other. They are-- as I say hinge-point questions are a subset, and they are questions that we plan on use for with a purpose.

Skip to 2 minutes and 48 secondsAnd if you would like to find out more, people who are watching this video or have not seeing the course, then please do go and join a future iteration of our online AFL course because we will explore questioning and its purposes much more in-depth in there. So thank you. Our second question then comes from Rashin and Azinabor and they were asking about using hinge-point questions with classrooms that maybe a bit more disruptive or pupils aren't behaving as well as possible. A hinge-point question for me is a question I want to use. I think Dylan raises the challenge in the course that we should be looking to use them every 20 minutes or so.

Skip to 3 minutes and 25 secondsWe advise that they do take time to write, that we develop them over time, particularly with colleagues as they are difficult to write. For me, if one of the key things-- I work with trainee teachers --is we need to get our pupils behaving. Once we get them behaving, we need to get them working. And then in order to get them working, we need to dig in deep and actually get them doing the learning. And that's something, again, across our suite of courses that we look at very much, is how we have classrooms that are about learning and not just about tasks and coverage.

Skip to 4 minutes and 1 secondSo you would have to work on getting the class into that environment where they see that learning is key for them, that they need to be active in that learning process. We do again-- I feel like I'm advertising our other courses --we do have the National STEM Learning Centre, a behaviour for learning course. So that might be something, Rashin and Azinabor, that you might find useful to look at, how we develop this learning climate where people see that they need to be responsible for their behaviour, so that then as a teacher I can plan and use effective teaching and learning approaches that are going to deepen and move forward their understanding.

Skip to 4 minutes and 33 secondsSo, yes, you can use hinge-point questions with them, but they do need to be understanding their role in that and behaving in it. So there is support for professional development to get that classroom culture right. But part of that is the children seeing that we plan and respond to where they are in their learning needs, that we don't just label them. So there's lots of things that affect learning culture. But it might be you want to do some more CPD on that and then come back to using these questions later as part of your own professional development. So I hope that helps, Rashin and Azinabor. Getting that classroom culture right is going to be crucial for you I think.

Skip to 5 minutes and 8 secondsOur next question then about hinge-point questions comes from Tina. Tina asks, when using hinge-point questions in class how do you plan what to do with the feedback you get? Do you play pre-plan specific routes beforehand? Wouldn't this contribute to our work, or would that just be at the start? Yes, it does contribute to our work, in all honesty. But for me, I know as a teacher I still teach. When I plan better, I have better lessons, I have better learning, and I have better responsiveness. And that for me is one of the things, how can I plan that responsiveness.

Skip to 5 minutes and 48 secondsSo it's not just off the cuff because sometimes I will do things and I'll think, they haven't got this, I need to do something about it. But if I plan for these key points like our hinge-point questions, then I do plan what am I going to do as a consequence. If I'm developing this practise, I might use a hinge-point question towards the end of the lesson, which gives me more time to plan what I'm going to respond and respond in the next lesson. But as I get more confident with them and I know my students more and I know how they learn better and how I group them better, I can plan that responsiveness for in the lesson.

Skip to 6 minutes and 22 secondsSo sometimes I will plan, but I just regroup the students. And I will regroup them on the answers that they give me. Or I will plan for an activity that will deepen where they're going and I might have students do different activities. If the whole class answers the hinge-point question and demonstrates that they've understood the concept, then I will move on in my planning. And I think this is a question that's been brought up later on. If the majority of the students don't get the answer right, then I will do something different. I will teach in a different way. That might be something that I plan for.

Skip to 6 minutes and 56 secondsAgain, that might be I come back to this learning concept in the next lesson or when I think it's going to be addressed further in the curriculum, and I make a note of how I'm going to teach differently at that point. If it's 50/50 I might pair them up. Or if it's a small group of students who haven't understood, I will get the rest of the class to move on, and then I will maybe do a drop in with the students.

Skip to 7 minutes and 18 secondsI can run that drop in with them and go through exemplars or examples of things that they've not understood, or I might get some students who have understood to run that drop in while I carry on and do other things. So I would use my learning resources, myself and my students, in different ways. But I would think through options. I do think through options. And as I say, I've been teaching a long time. I started in '93. I am still refining my practise all the time. I think that I've taught something, I've understood what the misconceptions are, and then I teach it again and I get a new one. So it's that responsiveness.

Skip to 7 minutes and 50 secondsI do feel the more I get to know my students and them as learners, that I can be more confident at using these types of questions during the learning and planning for that responsiveness. So I hope that helps, Tina. I think they are always a work in progress so it's that critical reflection afterwards which I'm going to talk about later that helps me develop my practise and become that responsive teacher. So moving on to our next question. I've grouped this question that's come from a couple of our participants. So Maudlyn and Bethany. And I think I've kind of started talking about this in what I just answered Tina.

Skip to 8 minutes and 27 secondsThey're asking what is expected of the teacher when the majority of the students do not get the answer correct. And it must be noted that teachers have limited time working with students. Totally agree, Maudlyn and Bethany. We have got limited time with our students. And I know one of the questions we've had raised many times in our Q&As is this thing about coverage of curriculum. And I think that for me links back to my thinking about how I would answer your question. It would depend on the focus of the question, I think.

Skip to 9 minutes and 0 secondsI know that as I develop my expertise in my subject that I teach, I know that there are some ideas for me and some concepts and skills that are non-negotiables. And if I've asked a question and the majority do not get the answer correct, if I feel that as we move on in the lessons that concept is needed to be understood, then I will stick with that concept until I get the students to understand it. And I think there's different ways I can think about the time I've got with my students. How am I effectively using their time away from me as well as the time I've got with them.

Skip to 9 minutes and 33 secondsIf it's something that I know I'm going to address later in the curriculum as we go through the course, I may just make a note of who-- and I make note of the exceptions, who didn't understand it. If it was the majority of them, as I say, if it's something they need I will focus on it. If not, then I will come back to it for all of them at a later point. And I will keep linking to these ideas as I build up the content and the curriculum as we go through. So it might be that I note down.

Skip to 10 minutes and 0 secondsIt might be that I change what I'm going to do in my teaching that's coming next and teach it in a different way, come at it from a different idea. Or it might be that I move on. It depends on the purpose of the question. In terms of teaching differently, it's interesting because I assessed my students recently. They had the end of module assessment. And I noted that there was particular types of questions they were not doing well on. And it was when it was about definitions and facts. And I chatted with my students and I said, I have an opportunity here. I feel that I'm getting an idea about what you don't understand.

Skip to 10 minutes and 39 secondsI can either talk at you more. But what I feel I'm doing is I'm doing your thinking. And so I flipped the lesson and I made them come up with the definitions and then apply them, and then they came to me individually as groups when they were ready, and I thought about who I grouped with who, and then I asked them a hinge-point question at that point. And if they hadn't understood it, I had a follow up task that they went off and they did and then they came back to me. And if they had understood it, they moved on. And then we had-- by this time in the lesson you all need to have achieved this.

Skip to 11 minutes and 8 secondsAnd they all did it, and we got there. And I asked them how they felt at the end, and they said they'd struggled a lot more, but they felt that they owned the learning and they did understand what they haven't understood before. So it's that thing, isn't it? It's how am I going to teach it differently. And as I say, I stood back and made them think more, but I spent a lot of time planning that lesson. And they told me that they felt they'd learned better. So it's that dialogue and feedback and that constant reiteration. So I hope there's ideas there that help Maudlyn and Bethany.

Skip to 11 minutes and 35 secondsAs I said, and I've said this to Tina before, I do think this is a continuing reflection on our practise as teachers. I don't think there is definitive answers or silver bullets I can give you. Bethany, you've asked the next question as well. Looking at using formative questions at the beginning of a lesson. If we've used it, Bethany asks, and it shows that the group have a better understanding than you originally thought, would you miss out part of the lesson that you believe they've already understood and move on, or do you still cover everything planned as a bit of revision for them?

Skip to 12 minutes and 8 secondsHonestly, Bethany, if I've asked the question and I feel they've got it, or I've done a different strategy, because sometimes I'll give out the curriculum, I'll give out the learning intentions and get them to traffic light them. So there's lots of different things I'll do at the start. If I feel that they've got it, how do I know they've got it? That's the question, isn't it? How do I know they've got it? So I might have scenarios that I get them to apply ideas to as I go through to check if they've understood it. But if I feel they've understood it, then I will move on. It'll depend what I'm asking them about.

Skip to 12 minutes and 37 secondsAs I say, if it's about facts and knowledge, I will get them to apply it. If it's about a concept, I might get them to use it in different situations. If I find out that I'm building and there's a point where they're not up because they haven't got that, then I will do something to help and support them. But a lot of ideas here I think you will find that our differentiation for learning course would help with this. Because it is about that classroom structure and how I use my students in it and set up them seeing that they need to be active co-agents in it.

Skip to 13 minutes and 6 secondsSo I might have, if you're not fairly happy, go and have a look at the help desk, is an idea that we have on there. Go and look at the definitions which you're unsure of. So there's lots of different ways. But actually going through it all for everybody? No I wouldn't. This is part of me being that responsive teacher. And, again, it's that planning for where I want to find out what they've got that purposefulness to it. So I hope that answers your question, Bethany. A few ideas, but as I say, we have got our differentiation for learning course. If you've not done it, I think we'll support you with that.

Skip to 13 minutes and 37 secondsBut I've planned, I will plan for what I'm going to do as a consequence of that. So thank you. Our final question then I've put under our hinge-point questions, is a question from Angela. So Angela says, thank you for the clarification criteria that we gave. And then her point is, once the teacher has gained evidence on a hinge-point question and has been able to assess the students' understanding and has gone one step further into putting them into groups, how much time should be given to those students to achieve the understanding? It's that question, isn't it Angela, about that we've talked about already. What do I mean by achieving the understanding?

Skip to 14 minutes and 19 secondsIs this a non-negotiable for me in terms of the content? Might I give them additional ideas and resources to apply those ideas outside of school, outside of my teaching time. Can I do drop-ins with them, because I quite often do drop-ins with my students if there's things that they want to cover, to give them an opportunity to go away and work on things and come back to me. Because we do have a limited amount of time with the curriculum and a lot to cover. So that would be part of my thinking about it. In terms of, as Angela says, regrouping the students, I would put them into groups. And I would think about them.

Skip to 14 minutes and 53 secondsAnd this is interesting, Angela, because I've been just recently doing some work and reading up on effective peer tutoring. And one of the things from the research I've been looking at was looking at how we group our students. And a couple of things came out which I think are interesting, and I'm going to test them out with my classes and see. This was worked on by Leung who were looking at an analysis across lots of people who'd carried out studies on peer tutoring. And some of the things that came up that I thought were really interesting was that single gender groups worked better.

Skip to 15 minutes and 27 secondsSo I think in terms of peer tutoring, whether there was a gender issue, one gender feeling inferior to another, that they were saying that some of the meta analysis found that single gender groups worked better. And also who was allocated the role of the tutor and who was allocated the role of the tutee. So I might get them to work together to tutor each other. And the research evidence. They were saying that it works better when your lower attaining student is actually the tutor, which I thought was interesting. And your higher attaining student is actually the tutee. So I think that is counter-intuitive some ways, I think, for what we're doing.

Skip to 16 minutes and 5 secondsSo the tutee can often feel, you know, I don't understand. But actually if we put the student with less attainment in the tutor role, they were saying it had a bigger impact. And they were also saying that there was bigger impacts across the phases of education. The secondary peer tutoring showed to have a higher impact. And that down at kindergarten, down at primary had the lowest impact. So again, the age of the students and how we're grouping them. So that might be useful for you to think about. How am I getting the students to work together, how am I grouping them to help each other, which approaches are working and which aren't.

Skip to 16 minutes and 40 secondsAnd reflecting on-- because I don't know, I'm going to test it out with my students --and it's that reflecting on what's helping them learn and asking the students. I always ask my students what's helped you today. And unpicking that with them. So hopefully that will help. I think we've talked about the coverage question. And as I said, we've got lots of other YouTube videos where we have looked at this where Dylan and Chris talk about it too. But maybe some ideas there about how we group as a consequence of the evidence that we've collected. Moving on to our next set of questions. I've grouped these under the issue of how can we help support all learners in our classrooms.

Skip to 17 minutes and 17 secondsSo the first question from Siobhan. Siobhan is asking about, based on her experience of the try out method of group work, she'd like to know how to promote group work with the students with autism. I know that this is a special, one of our special groups of students that we need to be catering for. In all honesty, Siobhan, it is out of my area of specialism and expertise. I work with trainee teachers and I've got somebody who's going to come in and work with my teachers and help support them and develop their thinking. I will be there so it will develop my thinking too. I do know that National STEM Learning Centre does offer support too for you for this.

Skip to 17 minutes and 56 secondsSo there are a couple of different things that you can do. You can either go and sign up online for the teaching computing programme. Or you can search on their website, which is and use the search for S-E-N-D, and you should be able to find in the UK locally run courses that are put on by the science learning partnerships that are near to you that are looking exactly at this, looking at how we can support the range of students that we may find that we are helping learn within our classrooms. So Siobhan, my advice would be to go and have a look at those two sources of support that are out there for you.

Skip to 18 minutes and 39 secondsAs I say, this is something that I know that I am developing my own thinking of too. So thank you for raising that. It is something that we are getting asked more about. So it is good to know that there is support there for all of us. Our next question then comes from-- this is from a couple of people. This is from Erika and Marziya, and they're asking what question methodology is the best for students with disabilities in terms of how can I engage and find out what the students are thinking and include their ideas.

Skip to 19 minutes and 13 secondsSo for me, I think we do have to think carefully that not everything that we present has to be presented in a form that is written. I think we can find out what students are thinking in lots of different ways. Irrespective of where their levels of understanding are, I need to be able to find that out, because if I can find out where their understanding is I can teach them better. So sometimes my mechanism for collecting the evidence needs to be in a different format. So for me, I think there's lots of different ways that we can ask questions and collect ideas. I think we can use images.

Skip to 19 minutes and 46 secondsWe can put images up and get our pupils to talk to each other and ask them what's it make you think, or what questions have you got. We can get our pupils to record their thinking. I know that when I work in primary there's lots of different ways we can get students to record their thinking. We can get them to use talk buttons, where they just press and record their thinking. We can use realia, we can use physical objects that are actually there for the students to engage with and think and touch and then talk about what they're feeling. I also have given my students devices where they can record their own thinking.

Skip to 20 minutes and 20 secondsSo that could be a camera where they go around and take photographs. It could be something where they narrate their thinking. I've used microphones before where I've had my students interviewing each other with the stimulus that gets them talking. That could be practical work that I've used in science and they interview each other and record their thinking. So I can find out their ideas lots of different ways. So I think it's about being creative. And I do think with technology now, there are more opportunities for doing this in interactive ways.

Skip to 20 minutes and 48 secondsI've had students using apps where they create a little slide PowerPoint that show their thinking and then we can project them and see what each other does, and they can narrate on that. So lots of different ways of capturing them. So I think the key thing is I plan the question with a purpose for why I want to identify where my students are, and then there's lots of ways I can gather their ideas. So I hope that helps. We will be limited by the resources that you've got. But something as simple as an object or an image or a demonstration could get them talking. So moving on.

Skip to 21 minutes and 20 secondsShivali is asking a question about differentiating between our learners who take longer to understand an idea and our learners who go faster. Shivali, in all honesty, we finished our differentiation for learning course last week and I chaired a question and answer session last week between our other course educators on this suite of courses, so Dylan Wiliam and Chris Harrison, and they looked and talked about this in depth, Shivali, last week. One of the key things that came out from what they were discussing was an idea about inclusive differentiation.

Skip to 21 minutes and 59 secondsThinking about the fact that I don't want to limit the potential performance of my slower learners by saying you're not going to get as far, but thinking what is it I want my students to be able to do for themselves now but in the future. So how do I plan to facilitate and support that?

Skip to 22 minutes and 18 secondsSo I'm going to suggest, Shivali, that you go and have a look at the National STEM Learning Centre's online YouTube channel where the video from last week's question and answer session from our differentiating for learning course will be up there, which will exemplify and talk further about this point about how do I as the teacher build a classroom culture where I am differentiating and being inclusive for all my learners. Because I think you'll get lots of ideas. And again, might want to put up, there was lots of references that Dylan and Chris discussed last week that will help develop your thinking on this further. It's a challenge, and it's something I'm constantly challenging myself with how do I do it.

Skip to 22 minutes and 58 secondsBut it is about all of these things that we talk about in terms of assessment for learning, is this finding out where they're at, giving them upfront an idea about what quality learning is, so they're not learning in the dark, supporting them and giving them different routes and journeys to get to that, finding out through dialogue and questions what their understanding and ideas are so I can better respond, and giving them that feedback that's going to move them forward whilst also using them as learning resources for each other. So it's everything that we talk about that is building this classroom culture that you're talking about here, Shivali.

Skip to 23 minutes and 30 secondsSo go and look at the online YouTube video and as well look at our suite of courses. They will keep developing your thinking in that area. So thank you, Shivali. It's something that we're often asked about. Moving on now to our next set of questions which I've just put under the category of assessing learning. So I'm going to start with Muhammad's question first which is what is the difference between assessment for learning and assessment of learning. I am hoping, Muhammad, that what we cover in this course, the assessment for learning course, will help with this understanding.

Skip to 24 minutes and 8 secondsSo I'm hoping the questions that we ask and the activities we get you to engage with and the discussions you have in the common thread will help you with that. A key thing for me is that assessment is just that, it is assessment. And I prefer when I talk about it talking about eliciting evidence. So I'm going to use an approach that's going to elicit evidence. But all that is done is elicit evidence. Has it elicited evidence of learning and understanding? I think that's a deeper, richer question for me to think about as a teacher. But the key then comes in terms of assessment and its purposefulness and what I do as a response to the evidence.

Skip to 24 minutes and 48 secondsSo if I infer something from the evidence and that influences the actions that I take, then that is the assessment for learning. It's helping me develop the learning of my students. I inferred, I thought about it. If I don't do anything with that assessment evidence, then that was just an assessment of the learning. It was a finding out what my students were able to do. It wasn't influencing their thinking and my thinking about why they could do what they were doing and then what I can do in response.

Skip to 25 minutes and 19 secondsSo I know that Wynn Harland talked a lot about this in the work that she does, and I know that Dylan and Paul and Chris talk about this in the work that they've done inside the Black Box Series. So I think some people think that assessment of learning is a test, and some people think that assessment for learning is the stuff I do in the classroom. Actually, both of those could be either. I could do stuff in the classroom, find out about my students, and actually not respond to the evidence. I could ask a question and get two or three different answers and then just carry on regardless.

Skip to 25 minutes and 53 secondsAnd so if that assessment evidence hasn't influenced my practise then I haven't responded, that is not assessment for learning, even though it was in a lesson. I could get a test and I could look at that test and consider the concepts and the ideas the test was assessing and then I could reflect back and look at the pupil's performance and infer are there particular bits of this topic they've understood, are there particular bits of this topic where they have difficulties, what am I going to do about it? Am I going to give those students who've had that test an opportunity to consolidate the learning on the concepts they've not got?

Skip to 26 minutes and 28 secondsWas there a teacher who's taught similar concepts whose students did understand it? Could I find out how they taught it? Could I get them to teach my students? Or am I going to change the way I teach this in the future for students who didn't understand it this time for future cohorts so I improve my teaching? So even though that was a summative test, I could still use it in a formative way if I actually respond to what I'm finding out in terms of the evidence. So I hope that helps, Muhammad, that actually assessment is assessment. It's what I do with that information, that evidence that determines the purpose of it.

Skip to 27 minutes and 4 secondsOur next question-- I've merged questions here from Angela, Marina, and Philomena, because I think we're talking about similar things here. We're talking here about how can we assess learning when we have different students and does it always have to be written assessment to prove particular points, and can an assessment be valid to assess all of the learning potential within my classroom, is my understanding of the questions that you're all asking.

Skip to 27 minutes and 35 secondsSo one of the things I would-- it made me think here was a chapter of a book called Ahead of the Curve that I have read, and it's a chapter at the end by a chap called Richard DuFour and he talks about the learning journey of a department, or a learning journey of colleagues, and I think that for me is a key thing. If we're developing assessments, we need to be asking ourselves, how reliable or how valid are these assessments.

Skip to 28 minutes and 3 secondsAnd then the other resource I think would be really valuable if you want to get more into this is a publication again by Dylan and Chris and the King's College Learning group and it's Inside the Black Box of Assessment, which was a book they brought out a few years ago. And a key starting point for me would be thinking, what does it mean to be good at my subject. What's it mean to understand this topic. What would I be looking at in terms of my students who have understood this topic. And from that-- and again, I think all of this needs to be done in dialogue with my peers. I think it's more difficult when you're on your own.

Skip to 28 minutes and 42 secondsWhat are the key concepts and ideas that this topic is assessing? What are the skills they are developing across this topic? So what assessments then am I going to use that are going to help me develop approaches that are going to give me evidence that is valid that helps me understand whether my students have understood these concepts? And it might be then that we develop a range of assessments with our colleagues. Sometimes that might be tests, but it might be different things that we could get our students to do that help me understand whether they've got that concept or that skill that I was looking at.

Skip to 29 minutes and 17 secondsAnd then there's questions about how do I ensure that the evidence that I'm getting from one teacher as evidence of their classroom and students understanding is as valid as the evidence I'm getting from another teacher? How are we moderating the validity of the assessments that we are using? How am I ensuring that the criteria that we're using, whether that's for a test, mark scheme, or whether that is for other assessment portfolio activities that I might develop. How are we checking that the interpretation and implementation of that mark scheme is being done correctly by different markets? How are we standardising our approaches to this?

Skip to 29 minutes and 54 secondsAnd these are the things I would be thinking about developing with my team so that the evidence that I'm collecting is indicating to me, as I talked about earlier, what my students have understood and not understood. Where is our scheme of learning working and where is it not working? Who is teaching things well, who's having difficulties, how can we learn from each other? How can I reflect that on pupils' understanding, but how can I reflect it back onto my teaching? What can I do better or different?

Skip to 30 minutes and 20 secondsSo for me, I think in terms of answering your questions is that question about the dialogue is the assessment fit for the purpose, and then how do I develop that valid, reliable assessment approach which could be multifaceted with my colleagues and then evaluate and analyse and adapt those assessment approaches over time. And I do think those two sources that I mentioned will help you with that thinking. I found them really powerful reading. And as I've mentioned, we've got questions here today from our assessment for learning course, but I know the National STEM Learning Centre has developed a suite of courses that help you in small bite size chunk unpick the thinking that underpins this field of research.

Skip to 31 minutes and 4 secondsSo if you go and have a look at our planning for learning course, some of these ideas that we're talking about are in there and there's actually the article I've mentioned, the Richard DuFour article from Ahead Of The Curve. So that will help develop your thinking further if you wish to develop in that direction. Or you could work with your colleagues on it and go and have a look at that course together and jump in at the points that would help you with that. And the next question from Afshan links nicely into what we've just talked about, actually.

Skip to 31 minutes and 30 secondsAfshan is an early years classroom and is using portfolios, checklists, et cetera, but is wondering how then to use this qualitative data to actually be able to make comparisons across different schools. So that's interesting, Afshan, isn't it? It depends on the way that you want to conduct the comparison, I think it comes down to. If it's about comparing numbers, then I'm not sure how well we can do that because of the reasons I've just discussed about validity, reliability, implementation, interpretation of how we're using different assessment and marking approaches.

Skip to 32 minutes and 7 secondsWhat would be the best thing to do if possible is actually to get together with colleagues from different schools and start talking about the learning of students in terms of the curriculum in different schools. How effective are they being with the concepts and ideas that you are looking at too, and looking at their assessment approaches and actually having that dialogue with each other. I think it's more difficult if results are just numbers. I think it's that professional dialogue about, as we're saying here, about the purpose and quality of our assessment portfolio and how it's helping us not in terms of students' performance with regard to their task, but always going back to this thing about learning.

Skip to 32 minutes and 48 secondsHow is it helping demonstrate to me the evidence of my pupils' understanding and learning? And that dialogue with each other I think is really powerful. So if you can get schools together in local communities, I know that is something that happens in the UK, particularly primary schools where they get together and they help each other moderate things like practical work in science, which is a harder thing to achieve through a test question, but actually looking at different ways of assessing that, then I think that's a really powerful way for us to develop our assessment approaches, but then as a consequence, our teaching and finally our pupils' learning and progress. So that's why I would encourage.

Skip to 33 minutes and 28 secondsAnd I see that, Afshan, you've got a second part to your question, which is how can a school Head support teachers in making this process? It's about giving time for you to get together as colleagues and have that professional dialogue. If that's in your own school, that's fantastic. If we can get to other schools, I think that's more difficult. But if we can get that professional dialogue going with our own schools. And as I said, taking it back to learning. All the time thinking about learning. How do I know they've understood it? Not how have they performed it, but how do I know they've understood it. And talking to each other about the things that we've been discussing.

Skip to 34 minutes and 6 secondsSo hopefully that's an opportunity. And I do find that teachers planning together is something we don't often get the opportunity to do, but planning together can be something that's really powerful as well for our learning, how are we teaching. And getting ideas and having dialogue about what's going to be the best way to teach, what's going to be the best question at the right time, what assessment should I be using, and challenging each other with those critical questions. So I hope that helps. I hope that helps, Afshan. A really good question and a really interesting question. Thank you. Moving on now.

Skip to 34 minutes and 37 secondsMy next question is from Kavita and Caroline, and they were asking questions about how do-- I'd like to know about how to end a topic or some suggestions for wind up activities. So coming towards the end of a unit, this is what it made me think about.

Skip to 34 minutes and 56 secondsSo I've got several ideas for you on this one, Kavita and Caroline. For me it would start with, I would want to be knowing before I got to the end of the topic what have my students understood, what haven't they understood, how do I know? So I might be doing some analysis, so some assessment activities that give me some evidence about some key learning across the topic. And then before we get to the final evaluation of that topic, whether that be a test or another assessment activity, what I'd want to do is some focused consolidation on areas that I think they've not understood.

Skip to 35 minutes and 33 secondsAnd again, sometimes with my students, my students are older, I might give them a-- I might set up learning zones for different topics. And I let them choose where their area of weakness is, where they want to go and work, and they will go and work in that zone, and then I will group them within that zone, or sometimes we will all work on the same things. If it's been concepts across a topic I think they've had difficulties with, then we might all work on it together. What I've done-- an activity I've done then is I've produced-- for particular topics I produce themes that I'm breaking it down into that they've had difficulties with.

Skip to 36 minutes and 8 secondsAnd I will give my students some questions that link to those concepts that they've had difficulty with. And my students are older so they've engaged with mark schemes, but I might have to do some exemplification about what makes a good mark scheme. And I will get my students to create a mark scheme. With my primary students, I might get them to come up with what do you think would be the right answer. And I will get them to create that mark scheme in groups. I generally for an activity like this get them to work in twos or threes.

Skip to 36 minutes and 35 secondsI think if they're working in a group of more than a three I end up with a passenger who just doesn't engage as much. Once they've created their mark scheme for the questions that link to the deficit areas of the curriculum I think that I've found out, I get them to mark their mark scheme against the actual mark scheme. So that might be a mark scheme I've generated, it might be one I've dragged from somewhere that's been an example generated question. It'll depend on where I get the questions from.

Skip to 37 minutes and 0 secondsSo once they've checked their mark scheme, then I get them to use their mark scheme to mark some question answers that I have created with the misconceptions and difficulties in that I know students have had before, or that I think they've got in the group. So they will mark answers that are wrong. And they've got to use their mark scheme to see if their mark scheme works, and then they've got to see if they can find out where the mistakes are. Once they've done that, they then provide feedback for those incorrect answers. So I get that dialogue with them. They come and visit me all the time. They're coming up as groups, talking to me about what they've spotted.

Skip to 37 minutes and 38 secondsAnd then I get them to apply those ideas to different questions that I've pulled out that are not answered at all. So then they will answer their own questions and then I get them to swap their questions that they've answered and they mark each others' and provide each other with feedback. It's quite an intense learning approach but it's very much focused on the assessment evidence I've gathered about their thinking across a topic, and then taking them through that scaffolded journey of working together to think about answers, to then apply that to incorrect answers, to then actually have a go, question independently, and then mark that question.

Skip to 38 minutes and 15 secondsSo that's just one approach, but I hope that helps and gives you some ideas.

Skip to 38 minutes and 21 secondsAnd then finally my last question, which is a question we often get asked a question about this on our courses, is how can we continue developing ourselves or how can I work with others to develop practise. So this question comes from Oyemachi, and they ask how can one develop his or her practise to be effectual, and what is the meaning of CPD? So CPD as an acronym means continuing professional development, and for me if we unpick that word, I think it kind of tells us what it's about. It tells us that development is ongoing. And I do believe as a teacher, I do-- and I don't see it as a bad thing --that I never get there.

Skip to 39 minutes and 2 secondsThat there's always more I can learn. There's always new things I can try out. There's always ideas I can engage with. There's research that can challenge my thinking. Some things I will take on board and think, I disagree with. Well, I think that's good because we are professionals. And that's the other thing, we are professionals. We should be critically engaging with ideas. For me it's not about just going out and trying something as a gut feeling, but actually what research evidence is out there to inform me professionally.

Skip to 39 minutes and 28 secondsWhat have researchers found out that's going to help my practise, which is why engaging with online CPD like the suite that we've got here at the National STEM Learning Centre, or by going to do my own research, by reading regularly. I do a lot of leadership CPD and one of the things we say is that effective people read often. And they have not just a to do list but a to be list. And I think that's really important for me. What do I want to be? What do I want to be in my classroom? What's going to help me keep getting there?

Skip to 39 minutes and 56 secondsSo it's that professionalism for me that I critically reflect on evidence and implement it and evaluate it so that I develop. And it is the idea that I keep moving forward, that I keep thinking, oh, that kid still hasn't got it, that student's still not got it, what can I do for that one, because I want them all to be there. So it is that continuing professional development, that journey for me. And there are things out there that can help us as teachers. I know when I did-- I've done some research and writing in professional development.

Skip to 40 minutes and 25 secondsAnd one of the things as teachers we're very good at doing, the research evidence says, is taking an idea and adapting the idea to fit how we currently practise. What we're not so good at doing is shifting our beliefs. And that for me is the key thing about this continual professional development. How do I shift my thinking about what I do, not just the activities of what I do? And there are models out there that can help us with that. There's lots of reflection models and research out there. So not just about what I teach but about how I think about how I teach.

Skip to 40 minutes and 58 secondsSo you could go and look at Schon's reflection-in-action or reflection-on-action model, which is a really nice way of thinking about what's happening while I'm doing it, but then afterwards why did it happen in that way. Or Gibbs has produced a reflective cycle, or Kolb has produced a reflective cycle, so they're really useful. In terms of teaching for us, Joyce and Showers did work that looked at how professional development can shift teachers' beliefs. And they pulled out that in particular it's not just about seeing ideas, it's not just about seeing somebody else model an idea.

Skip to 41 minutes and 30 secondsIt's about having a go with the idea, and then this idea that links back to Schon and reflecting on my practise of that idea that really starts to shift my beliefs. And if I can do that with another who can coach me and we can challenge and question each other, then that will really start taking my thinking deeper. And in terms of coaching, I think that Whitmore is a really good model to think about coaching. He talks about coaching as a potential for helping us all develop and grow.

Skip to 41 minutes and 58 secondsAnd he'd just talk about growth models, where he says the key thing is that I believe in my potential to get better and that I'm aware and responsible for the actions that I take. So there's lots of things out there to help me continue in my professional journey. So as well as engaging in things about what I teach but reflective models that are going to help me think about that. And as I said, there's lots of things that the National STEM Learning Centre does, both online and face to face that can help me with that.

Skip to 42 minutes and 25 secondsSo in the UK we've got the opportunity of face to face CPD, but for those of us who are abroad, you have the opportunity of the online courses. And this is why we structure our online courses that you do our reflective grids and we do ask you all the way through to keep evaluating your practise, because that is probably the deeper learning than actually the takeaway ideas that we give you that model and exemplify the underpinning thinking that we're talking about. So thank you, Oyemachi, for that. I think that draws this together nicely in terms of this online question and answer session. As always, there's so much learning that goes on in the threads.

Skip to 43 minutes and 2 secondsSo I do recommend even if you've finished a course and you've got access to it you go back, because you do gain from the discussions that the teachers are having in the particular steps that were of interest to you, so go back. Thank you as always to Dylan and Chris who are not here today. It's me doing this today. But it's their ideas and research that has developed this field over many years that we are lucky enough to tap into. Thank you to the National STEM Learning Centre as always for giving us these opportunities, and to Matt who supports this. He's the silent hero in the background.

Skip to 43 minutes and 33 secondsAnd thank you for the time that you've put aside to raising these questions and listening to my responses. I look forward to seeing you again on a future online course. And thank you for your time on this one.

Question and answer session

The Q&A sessions on courses from the National STEM Learning Centre provide you with the opportunity to ask more about the course content and issues from your own classroom practice.

Andrea Mapplebeck recorded her answers to a selection of your questions on 20 February.


  • using hinge-point questions,
  • how to use evidence of learning from formative assessments,
  • supporting all learners,
  • assessing learning (including the difference between ‘assessment for learning’ and ‘assessment of learning’),
  • routes for your professional development.

References from the Q&A

  • Leung, K. C. (2015) Preliminary Empirical Model of Crucial Determinants of Best Practice for Peer Tutoring on Academic Achievement Preliminary Empirical Model of Crucial Determinants of Best Practice for Peer Tutoring on Academic Achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(2), 558–579
  • Black, P., Harrison, C., Hodgen, J., Marshall, B. & Serret, N. (2013) Inside the Black Box of Assessment. GL Assessment.
  • Reeves, D. (2009). Ahead of the Curve. Solution Tree Press
  • Joyce,B. & Showers,B. (1980). Improving in-service training: the messages of research. Educational Leadership, 37, 379-385.
  • Whitmore, J (2017) Coaching for Performance (5th Edition). Nicholas Brealey Publishing
  • Schön, D. (1987) Educating the Reflective Practitioner: Towards a New Design for Teaching and Learning in the Professions. California: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.
  • Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development (Vol. 1). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
  • Gibbs G (1988). Learning by Doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Further Education Unit. Oxford Polytechnic: Oxford.

Please note: the recording will be publicly viewed via this step and may also be uploaded to the STEM Learning YouTube channel.

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Introducing Assessment for Learning

National STEM Learning Centre