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Research and findings

Teachers from St Margaret's School Devon discussing their use of pre-teaching
We were saying earlier that the biggest thing was confidence wasn’t it confidence to participate in the lesson confidence to support their peers and confidence have a go - and challenge themselves like one of the lessons when we’ve looked at a condition before well I want to go I want to go use these numbers because I think that will be harder for me. Yes they’ve become active members of the lesson haven’t they they’ve they’ve gone from being just another in a lesson to being a feature of the lesson I think whether it’s like teaching others or just actively trying to get better they just their presence in the lesson has increased massively I think.
I think as well I’ve noticed with some of my children from the beginning of the year when they would actively be doing something right and someone would tell them oh I don’t think that’s right they would literally crumble and be like oh I’m doing it all wrong I can’t do it and there would be that actual putting the paper down body language down finish to the point where now they would they would actually question well what why do you think I’m doing this wrong because I’m doing this and this and they will explain it to each other and they will actually sort of almost argue their case of actually I know what I’m doing I believe in what I’m doing I understand what I’m doing why are you telling me I’m doing it wrong I’ve seen that a few times.
But that’s the confidence in their understanding isn’t it that’s the thing now they will fight their corner because of the little nuggets that have been given to them they will then use them. They go and say no I disagree with you. Yeah absolutely because they know that they’ve got something that is valid which I think is massive for them isn’t it.
I think they have the confidence now to actually move themselves on in their learning whereas before they would always stay at the sort of safety element of the lesson of I’m doing this I understand what I’m doing here I think I’m getting the answer right that’s the important thing of matter I’m getting the answer right the teachers nodding at me and that’s fine to the point now where they’re moving themselves on and they’re going on finding this quite tricky, I’m you know writing thought bubbles to say I don’t quite understand this but this is what I’m doing this is why I think it is so they’re having that you know confidence to actually expand their learning rather than just reinforcing what they know and it’s that changing of the masses and about getting it right it’s about about me developing my understanding and pushing myself on further.
But don’t you think they’re more reflective of what they understand, so they can argue what they do know but as you say they’re more aware of what they don’t know and what they need to develop which is massive isn’t it. But they weren’t aware of what they didn’t know before - yes absolutely oh well I don’t yeah I don’t think they didn’t have enough understanding to be able to understand what they didn’t know did they!
But they were also okay with that ,that was the thing where is now they’re totally not like if there’s a bit they don’t get that’s the bit they want to work on whereas before it was a case of they would just try and skate by you know they can float through and they could because they you may think just about get by but actually now they’re wanting to be better mathematicians.
I think as well it’s changed from I don’t understand maths I can’t do it what can’t you do I can’t do it I can’t do any of it to - actually I don’t understand this specific part I’ve done this and this but my answer is different I noticed when we were doing maths the other day one of the children had actually written well I know my answer is wrong because it’s actually only double and I’ve times’d by 12 so I know that can’t be right so they’ve understood where they go wrong as opposed to this is wrong I’ve done it wrong I don’t get maths.
But then I think during the pre teaches we’ve developed that mindset because the pre teaches haven’t always gone swimmingly have they they’ve got 10 minutes in then we’ve gone oh but it’s that mindset of okay let’s keep going and lets work through and they’ve seen that in those really sort of specific and focused ways, so they’re taking it into the lesson aren’t they. What was interesting is that even when the pre teaches didn’t go so well actually a competence was still assigned during the lesson in a ways that we hadn’t thought of which was really interesting.
And I think what’s really amazing as well is it’s not just in the classroom it’s been noticed I know that both of us all three of us actually have had comments from parents about the children’s confidence in general the way they’re going home and speaking to the parents about what they’re doing what they’re learning every single child in the pre teaches parents have noticed a difference in their child - yeah there’s something from parents and in report comments…
Well cause it’s learning what they’ve developed as learners and it’s not just math as it is across the board and it’s also how they feel about school it’s not just you know the competence has been about how they feel about maths, how they feel in a maths lesson but actually how they feel in their school day has changed and that’s massive. How they’re feeling when they’re coming through the doors has changed. I suppose it’s that level of when we’re talking about the statuses as well they always have perceived themselves as that low state to us doesn’t understand whereas now that mindsets completely changed where they actually see themselves as a valued member of the class.
And we did notice that during SATs as well particularly with the year 6 you know - the way they went into it was totally different because they knew they could do it. One of our children well actually all three of our children came out saying they enjoyed SATs because one of them he was one of the most terrified I know during the first sort practice ones we did Claire commented on the body language of the child like she went is that child okay and I said yeah just like they were lying on the table like this while doing the test whereas that child came out and I said how did it how was it they went that was really good I enjoyed that there was a massive smile then they sort of skipped out which doesn’t happen!
but they were proud of themselves and they didn’t know their scores or anything like that at that point but they were proud of what they had done they felt like I could handle all of that I can do all of that actually good on me.
This video shows teachers discussing the impact of using pre-teaching and assigning competence on their focus learners.
The main findings from our research were as follows:
  • Pre-teaching was most effective when run by the class teacher
  • Pre-teaching and assigning competence maximise learning in lessons
  • Pre-teaching and assigning competence have a positive impact on children’s confidence in themselves as mathematical thinkers
  • Pre-teaching can have different structures and focus on different things
  • Assigning competence is a powerful tool but can be more challenging for teachers to use effectively
Whilst this research was focused on primary-age learners (5 to 11 year olds), we have since successfully explored using these same strategies with older learners, including with teachers and teaching assistants.
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