Learning objectives and success criteria

In order to assess the effectiveness of practical activities, we need to be clear about the intended learning intentions or objectives. John Hattie explains the importance of sharing learning intentions and success criteria with students in the video provided here:

As you watch the video, consider how this this applies in practical science.

Learning intentions and success criteria

The basic premise is that the students have the same idea as their teacher what is going on in the classroom, and what they should be learning as a result of doing. Many students are not going to know this unless it is clearly signposted - learning intentions (or objectives), and success criteria provide this direction.

You could try several different ways to share and even co-construct success criteria with students for maximum impact:

  1. Doing it wrong so the students correct you, or not completing them, so that they do.
  2. Show a finished product, so that they can see what a good one looks like
  3. A comparison of two products is even better as it gives an indication of quality (why is this one better than that one?).
  4. Sloppy success criteria giving rise to incorrect methods or work. The students then decide together how to make the success criteria better.
  5. Retrospective creation of success criteria is useful when the product or process is so big it’s not immediately obvious what went into it. This is especially useful in breaking down aspects of enquiry.
  6. Revisiting existing success criteria, to see if you can make it better.


How do you share learning objectives and success criteria with your students? Based on the suggestions above, what might you change?

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Practical Science: Biology

National STEM Learning Centre