Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment

Develop the way you use evidence of student understanding to inform your teaching and enable learning during and across lessons.

15,082 enrolled on this course

Planning for Learning: Formative Assessment
The CPD Certification Service

This course has been certified by the CPD Certification Service as conforming to continuing professional development principles. Find out more.

Improve learning outcomes in STEM subjects through effective planning

Guided by experts in assessment for learning, on this course you’ll plan to identify your learners’ thinking, clarify learning goals and fine tune your teaching to progress your students’ understanding, both in and between lessons.

Plan based on learners’ starting points, use success criteria, and develop your classroom questioning to adjust your teaching approach and respond to student learning. You’ll also look at medium-term planning and the benefits of working with colleagues as you change your practice.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds [Andrea Mapplebeck] As teachers we all know that planning is essential, so how do you make sure it drives forward student progress? How do we plan for learning? As a teacher who wants to promote the learning of your students, you’ll want to make evidence-informed judgements and apply a range of approaches to respond and adapt teaching during and in between lessons. [Dylan Wiliam] Planning for Learning in STEM Teaching is for teachers of all phases, from primary to secondary and post-16. Assessment for learning helps teachers collect evidence to tailor student learning. [Chris Harrison] We’ll look at planning to identify students’ starting points before exploring ways to tune teaching approaches and techniques for responding to student learning.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds Finally we look at medium term planning and planning with colleagues. [Andrea] Through combining evidence-based research with your own experiences and understanding of your students and classroom environment, you will develop effective approaches to improve student achievement and engagement with their learning. [Laura (Teacher)] We need to think not just about what they can do the next two weeks, but how that’s going to help them in the future when they move on to future topics. [George (Teacher)] Children aren’t able to achieve, if you just give them a task, as well as if you give them tasks built on what they already know.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds [Amy (Teacher)] And it’s about knowing where children are at coming into the lesson, and how you’re going to get them to the next step leaving the lesson so none of the children get left behind. [Ashley (Teacher)] Every lesson is different, every student’s different, every group you put together is different. You have to be ready to adapt your timing and if you can’t get something in that particular lesson it’s not the end of the world. [Chris Harrison] On this course you will see a range of approaches exemplified by teachers and learn ways to listen in to your students and infer their progress. These approaches will help you become better able to support the learning of all your students.

Skip to 1 minute and 48 seconds [Dylan Wiliam] Planning for Learning is one of many online CPD courses provided by the National STEM Learning Centre as part of the STEM teaching program on FutureLearn. [Andrea Mapplebeck] You will learn with other teachers from around the world, contextualise the course within your own teaching environment and will be supported by educators and mentors online. [Chris Harrison] We look forward to you joining us on the course.


  • Week 1

    What is planning for learning?

    • Planning for learning as formative practice

      We start the course by thinking about when in your teaching you have the opportunity to check students’ understanding and why this needs to be planned.

    • Decision-driven data-collection

      A key concept for this course is to choose the assessment for learning approaches that will help you make decisions about how to teach your students. We start with a recap of what assessment for learning means in practice.

    • Examples of collecting evidence

      These three videos demonstrate different ways to collect evidence. For each consider the context in which they would be most effective as ways for collecting evidence of learning from your students.

    • Planning your decisions

      You're now familiar with the key concepts of planning for learning. In the final part of this week, you'll start creating your approach to planning for learning.

  • Week 2

    Planning starting points for teaching

    • Misconceptions as a starting point

      As you start planning, you will need to understand where your students are in their learning.

    • Finding misconceptions for planning

      You’ll look now at a range of sources to uncover difficulties your students may have, so that you can plan for when you will address these in your lessons.

    • Planning using learning intentions

      Learning intentions help both teachers and students answer the question ‘Where are we going?’ and form a key part of your planning for learning.

    • Identifying successful learning

      With a clear learning intention, there is also a need for clear success criteria to show learning.

    • Planning starting points for teaching

      This week you've found out where to find misconceptions in your subject and considered how to share learning intentions and success criteria. Now you're ready to plan from starting points.

  • Week 3

    Evidence and inferring student understanding

    • Inferring understanding to respond in lessons

      We start this week be considering the idea of 'inference' and how you know whether or not your students 'get it'.

    • Developing your questioning for evidence

      How will you ask better questions that enable you to infer how much your students understand?

    • Classroom examples of questioning

      We have four examples of questioning used by our teachers. Watch each one and consider the advantages and disadvantages of each approach within your context. Share your thoughts on the discussion step.

    • Teaching resources for questioning

      For the final activity this week, we'd like you to share your teaching resources where you have used a questioning approach to gather evidence about your students' understanding.

  • Week 4

    Responding to the evidence in lessons

    • Acting on the evidence

      This week we will be developing how you respond to the evidence of student learning you collect. We start with some typical situations. Whilst not all may be in your subject, you can still consider how you might wish to respond.

    • Group work as a response within and between lessons

      We look at collaborative learning, students sharing ideas and re-grouping particularly where students have differing ideas can be a response to evidence of student learning.

    • Responding between lessons

      After considering the actions you might take within a lesson, how might you respond to evidence of learning between lessons?

    • Summary: responding in and between lessons

      Reflect on your learning so far, take a look at your mentors' video diary and learn from Dylan, Chris and Andrea in the course Q&A.

  • Week 5

    Responding to evidence across lessons

    • Planning in the medium term

      At the end of last week we suggested how you may need to respond between lessons. This week we focus on planning for learning across a series of lessons.

    • Planning for learning with students

      Your substantive activity this week is to gather your students perceptions of changes you've implemented through this course.

    • Planning for learning with colleagues

      Planning for learning with colleagues is an important part of teaching practice. In this part of the course, Chris will explain an approach to embedding planning for learning as part of a professional learning community.

    • Reviewing your professional development

      Review your professional development and plan your next steps to sustain and develop the way you plan for learning.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service
The CPD Certification Service:

The CPD Certification Service was established in 1996 and is the leading independent CPD accreditation institution operating across industry sectors to complement the CPD policies of professional and academic bodies.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify students' starting points and how to plan to move them forward successfully
  • Demonstrate how to make evidence informed judgements about your students
  • Apply a range of approaches to respond and adapt teaching during and in between lessons
  • Develop your planning for flexibility and evidence collecting opportunities, including addressing difficult areas and misconceptions

Who is the course for?

This course is for teachers, curriculum leaders, teaching assistants, newly qualified teachers, trainee teachers and others involved in teaching Science, Engineering, Technology, Computing or Maths. It’s suitable for educators working at primary, secondary or further education (ages 5-19 years).

Teachers of other disciplines may find this course useful in applying assessment for learning approaches.

Who will you learn with?

Former physics teacher & leader, now supporting educators to develop teaching. Commissioned by National STEM Learning Centre to work with Dylan Wiliam & Chris Harrison to design & support AfL courses.

Reader in Science Education and Chair of ASE 2014-2015. Lead UK Researcher on Assessment for Learning. Research interests in Inquiry-learning, professional learning and CPD.

Former school teacher, academic, and university administrator, now working with teachers and leaders around the world to improve educational outcomes for young people.

Who developed the course?

National STEM Learning Centre

The National STEM Learning Centre provides world-class professional development activities and resources to support the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

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