ED3FA3 – Learning intentions and success criteria in your classroom (2022)

By Lori Pereira

EDITION #3 – Have I set high expectations for myself and my students?

Published – 20th March 2019

When we make it clear what the essential learning is to students, students are more likely to learn.

What are they learning?

Recently my eight-year-old niece told me about a learning activity she had undertaken that day at school. The class had first read Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and then in groups they had measured cereal into bowls that were small, medium and large. As I talked with my niece, I tried to work out what the purpose of the learning was for that activity. I considered several options. Perhaps it was a literacy activity and pouring cereal into bowls was a way of demonstrating an understanding of the key points of the narrative. Perhaps it was a numeracy activity, helping students to understand measurement and ratio, or possibly the teacher had something entirely different in mind. Maybe the key learning was around active listening, group work or the importance of a nutritional breakfast. While I am certain the teacher had a clear understanding of the purpose of the learning, from questioning my niece, it was clear that she had very little understanding of what this was. Since my niece was not clear about the purpose of the learning, she also had little understanding of whether or not she had made a good attempt at the activity.

Clarity is critical

Without clarity, students are often just having a stab in the dark as to what is expected of them.

Learning intentions and success criteria bring clarity to the learning, and the research is clear that this clarity makes a significant difference. Carol Ann Tomlinson writes, ‘A fuzzy sense of the essentials results in fuzzy activities, which in turn results in fuzzy student understanding. That’s the barrier to high-quality teaching and learning’ (2014, p.62). When used together, learning intentions and success criteria bring both purpose and clarity to our lessons. When done well, they are game changers.

As teachers, we know why we are doing certain things in the classroom. We make decisions every session about what we will ask our students to do, and which learning activities we will have them engage in, and we make each of these decisions with the core purpose in mind. What has become increasingly obvious is that students lack this same understanding, and therefore do not make the gains we would expect to see.

The High Impact Teaching Strategies HITS (Department of Education and Training, 2018) have learning intentions and success criteria as key elements. Underpinning these strategies are Hattie’s (2009) research-determined effect sizes of 0.75 for Teacher Clarity and 0.56 for Goals.

I have set out below the process I use in my classroom.

Determining learning intentions

A learning intention is a clear statement describing what we want students to know, understand and be able to do as a result of a lesson or learning activity.

Examples might include:

  • we are learning how to design enquiry questions for research
  • we are learning how to construct a pie graph
  • we are considering how politicians use social media to influence voters
  • we are learning how to solve quadratic equations.

For a learning intention to be effective it should be:

  • Reflective of the essential learning. It is not a description of what will take place in the lesson, or a set of instructions. It is a statement that captures the core knowledge or skill we want students to have mastery of in the lesson. Once we define in a very succinct statement the key learning for the session, we plan and implement lessons with greater clarity
  • Shared. When students know the essential learning, they know where to focus their efforts. The learning intention cannot just be in the teacher’s head
  • Visible and referenced. In the course of a lesson or lessons, we might ask students to do multiple things – some independent and some collaborative. We need to constantly bring all things back to the core learning.

Provide success criteria to help students achieve the learning intentions

A learning intention on its own will not dramatically change the course of a lesson. Success criteria need to accompany it: ‘The purpose of the success criteria, or “What are we looking for?” is to make students understand what the teacher is using as the criteria for judging their work, and, of course to ensure that the teacher is clear about the criteria that will determine if the learning intentions have been successfully achieved’. (Hattie, 2009, p.169)

The relationship between learning intentions and success criteria, is fundamental to explicit teaching. The success criteria demonstrate how the learning intention can be met. It says to students, ‘this is what it would look like if you did this well’. Without success criteria, the learning intention is limited.

Three ways that success criteria can be made clear

1. Written success criteria

When we write success criteria, we are putting together a clearly stated set of standards and all students will know what these standards look like if the learning was achieved. It is really as simple as imagining a student asked you: ‘what can I do today that will show I’ve met the learning intention?’ and then providing those written statements for the students.

Example one

Learning intention: We are learning how to write an introduction to an essay.

Success criteria: I can write an introduction that:

  • engages the reader with a hook
  • includes a statement of contention that is responsive to the essay question
  • succinctly summarises the key points made in the essay.

Example two

Learning intention: We are learning how federal parliament operates in Australia

Success criteria: I can accurately explain how people are elected to the House of Representatives and I can determine which party/coalition forms government in a range of election scenarios.

2. Models of work

A second way we can demonstrate success is to provide students with models of work. This is a powerful way to help students understand what the expectations look like in practice. Often when we are describing for students what we want them to do, or how we want them to approach the task, we have a clear vision in our heads of what it would look like. Students often do not have this same vision. If they do not have a good grasp of what needs to be done, then they are highly unlikely to successfully complete the task.

When we are designing learning experiences, we want to be asking ourselves the question: ‘What can I provide to students that will show them what is expected?’ If you are asking students to write a practical report, have they seen a model of a high level practical report? If you are asking students to write an essay, have they seen a model of a high level essay? If you’re asking students to produce a PowerPoint presentation, have they seen a model of an excellent PowerPoint presentation? Providing a high-level model or exemplar is a very powerful way to show students the goal.

If we are concerned that students will simply copy, we can be creative about what parts of the task or learning experience we choose to model. If, for example, students are learning to write an introduction then we can show them a model introduction on an entirely different topic. The success criteria make no reference to the topic of the essay and so any introduction can serve as a model. If we are asking students to create a poster, brochure, video or speech, we can show them a model based on other content areas. If we are modelling a short answer response in a Science subject, we might choose to show an unsuccessful model first and discuss what is missing, rather than show them a correct answer they might copy.

3. Worked examples

The High Impact Teaching Strategy, Worked Examples, highlights a third way in which we can help students understand success. With an effect size of 0.57 (Hattie, 2009), a worked example is a demonstration of the approach to the task. It is demonstrating the process the students need to undertake in order to successfully complete the task. This is a technique we see frequently in the teaching of mathematics. Teachers regularly model for students the process they need to go through in order to complete the task. However, we see it far less often in other learning areas. When we incorporate worked examples into our lessons, we are asking ourselves the question, ‘How can I demonstrate to students what they need to do in order to successfully complete the task?’

In the same way that we might provide a worked example of a mathematics equation on the whiteboard, we can also provide a worked example of writing a response to a short answer question. We can demonstrate how we might select a quote or construct a topic sentence.

Using learning intentions and success criteria throughout the lesson for feedback

Providing learning intentions and success criteria at the commencement of learning enables students to see the gap between their current and intended learning and provides them with the impetus to bridge the gap. In order to get the maximum effect of learning intentions and success criteria, we want to be using them all the way through the lesson. There are several ways teachers can be doing this.

Facilitating feedback to self

When written success criteria, models, or worked examples are present in a classroom, students can use these at any point during the lesson to check their own progress, and they should be encouraged to do this. One way to achieve this is to have students:

  • work independently or collaboratively for a period of time and then stop the class
  • instruct them to look at the criteria, model or example
  • spend a few minutes comparing that to their own work.

This need not take more than a few minutes. Many students will identify elements of their own work that are missing, incorrect, off track or need further development. As a result, they are instantly on a better course with their learning. This can be done many times throughout a lesson and before any task is concluded.

Facilitating peer to peer feedback

Peer to peer feedback is easily achieved with clear criteria. As with self-feedback we can:

  • stop the class at any point and ask students to look at the work of the person next to them
  • ask them to give feedback statements only related to the success criteria.

Students do not need to give evaluative statements such as ‘it’s good’, but rather descriptive statements related to the task, e.g. ‘you have included a hook, but you are missing the contention’. Many students will quickly identify areas of the criteria to be worked on or changed. Peer to peer feedback is more effective and efficient than a teacher attempting to try and read all students’ work.

Focus teacher feedback

A final way we can use the established success criteria is to focus our own feedback comments. We often find ourselves across the course of a lesson going around the classroom giving feedback related to students’ efforts, the amount of work they have completed, their behaviour, their spelling, the neatness of their handwriting, the pace at which they’re working etc. While there is a time and place for each of these feedback comments, they are rarely related to the core learning. When we have clearly defined success criteria, these should be a basis for most of the comments we make to students. As teachers, we can be asking ourselves, ‘Am I making comments that lead students towards achieving the learning intention today?’

Key takeaways for graduate teachers

At every point in the teaching sequence, from the planning to the evaluation of learning, we should consider learning intentions and success criteria as essential elements to any good lesson. Use the following reflection questions regularly when planning your work, when in the classroom and when evaluating your own teaching:

  • how can I build the regular use of learning intentions and success criteria into my planning processes?
  • how can I provide helpful success criteria in the form of written statements, models and worked examples?
  • how can I use the learning intention and success criteria throughout the lesson to guide student progress and provide self, peer and teacher feedback?

References

Department of Education and Training, 2017, ‘High impact teaching strategies: Excellence in teaching and learning’, viewed 25 November 2018, http://www.education.vic.gov.au/Documents/school/teachers/support/highimpactteachstrat.pdf

Hattie, J. A. C., 2009, Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement, Routledge London.

Tomlinson, C. A., 2014, The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners (2nd Ed.), ASCD, Alexandria, VA.

FAQs

What are learning intentions and success criteria? ›

Learning intentions are statements that describe what students should know, understand and be able to do by the end of a task. Success criteria are linked to learning intentions and describe what success looks like.

What is success criteria in the classroom? ›

Success Criteria are derived from Learning Goals, but they are more specific. They explicitly describe student performances of understanding or skills—what students will say, do, make, or write—to demonstrate that they have met the Learning Goals.

Why is it important to share learning intentions and success criteria with pupils? ›

Sharing objectives and criteria can have a number of uses and benefits, including: To encourage students to take more control of their learning. Students will know what and why they are learning. It gives an opportunity to connect up with previous sessions.

What are examples of learning intentions? ›

Learning Intention: I am learning to solve linear equations. I can solve two-step equations. I can isolate the variable in the equation. I can explain the process of solving an equation.

What are some examples of success criteria? ›

Here are seven common types of project success criteria:
  • Cost. This factor measures the total cost of the project against the expected budget that stakeholders establish at the beginning of a project. ...
  • Timeline. ...
  • Scope. ...
  • Deliverables. ...
  • Resource capacity. ...
  • Business goals. ...
  • Stakeholder satisfaction.

How do educators implement learning intentions? ›

Learning Intentions should be written in student‐friendly language, in a way that actively engages students in the learning process. Use of Learning Intentions should put greater emphasis on the process of learning over the completion of a task or the end product.

Why are success criteria important for learners? ›

Success criteria are linked to learning intentions. They are developed by the teacher and/or the student and describe what success looks like. They help the teacher and student to make judgements about the quality of student learning.

What are the criteria to develop a good learning experience for success? ›

Three key principles for effective learning

To design an effective adult learning experience, we need to: understand the learner's context (past, present and future); establish and respond to the learner's existing level of knowledge; and. provide adequate and appropriate practice over time.

How do you create a success criteria? ›

As previously mentioned, Co-Constructing Success Criteria is about developing a shared understanding of what success looks like. To do so, students need models, examples, exemplars, and works-in-progress to think through and evaluate what makes quality work and how work can be improved.

How do you communicate learning objectives in the classroom? ›

Consider stating objectives both orally and in writing and repeating them during the lesson to remind students why they are learning. Teachers often use verbal and written outlines or summaries of objectives. Providing demonstrations or models of learning products or outcomes is also effective.

How do you share learning objectives with your class? ›

The single most important method for routinely sharing learning targets is using assignments that match—really match—the learning goal. It is in the assignment that the teacher translates the learning goal into action for the student. The student will strive to do the assignment, not the abstract goal.

At what point in the lesson will you share these success criteria with learners? ›

The success criteria is normally established at the very beginning of the lesson so your students know what the aims of the lesson are.

Why should teachers use learning intentions? ›

Learning intentions are the basis for tracking student progress, providing feedback and assessing achievement. In addition to learning intentions, students may also have individual learning goals that they address in their learning.

Why is it important that learning intentions should be clear? ›

Learners tend to learn more effectively when they are clear about the purpose of learning. Knowing where you are headed does not mean that the tasks needs to have every single detail mapped out for you, but it does require a clarity of the purpose of learning.

What should be criteria for including learning activities in the curriculum? ›

7 Criteria for the Selection of Subject-Matter or Content of the Curriculum
  • Self-sufficiency. ...
  • Significance. ...
  • Validity. ...
  • Interest. ...
  • Utility. ...
  • Learnability. ...
  • Feasibility.
14 Mar 2015

How do you write a learning goal for a lesson plan? ›

5 Steps to Writing Clear and Measurable Learning Objectives
  1. Identify the Level of Knowledge Necessary to Achieve Your Objective. ...
  2. Select an Action Verb. ...
  3. Create Your Very Own Objective. ...
  4. Check Your Objective. ...
  5. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.
5 Jun 2022

What is the difference between objectives and success criteria? ›

The goal and objectives frame the project's work and direction. The success criteria frame how the objectives are achieved. Goals are high-level statements that provide the overall context defining what the project is trying to achieve.

How do you write learning goals? ›

The key to writing learning objectives is using an action verb to describe the behavior you intend for students to perform. You can use action verbs such as calculate, read, identify, match, explain, translate, and prepare to describe the behavior further.

How do you state a learning intention? ›

Learning intentions should make clear what students will be learning about, not how this learning will be achieved, that is, to the activities and tasks of the lesson. For example, 'Complete all of the questions on page 45 of your textbook' is not a learning intention – it is a statement about an activity.

What success criteria means? ›

WHAT ARE SUCCESS CRITERIA? • The standards/levels by which to judge whether an objective/goal/ target/outcome has been achieved/successful. • Success criteria are linked to intended outcomes and targets e.g. of action plans, of strategic plans.

How can teachers maintain a focus on teaching and learning? ›

These include: Essential questions, which are used to determine the goal of lessons. Activating strategy, which is a method teachers use to get students excited about and connecting the content to their own lives. Relevant vocabulary, which refers to using vocabulary that students understand.

How can you develop thinking and assessment for learning in the classroom? ›

Questioning

Questioning is the driving force of developing thinking and assessment for learning in the classroom. High quality questions lead to high quality talk. Whether it is the teacher or the learner who poses the questions, they should be open-ended wherever possible, and lead to discussion.

Is success criteria formative assessment? ›

In specifying success criteria, the teacher has begun to make use of formative assessment: they've anticipated what the outcome of their teaching is intended to be. They can follow up with actions such as questioning or end-of-topic tests to assess what the pupils have learned.

What is the purpose of sharing learning objectives with students? ›

Explaining the intentions behind a lesson plan can boost engagement and help students get back on track when something isn't working.

How do students learn best in the classroom? ›

Students learn best when they're challenged with novelty, a variety of materials, and a range of instructional strategies. Law of feedback. Effective learning takes place when students receive immediate and specific feedback on their performance.

How can we improve teaching and learning in the classroom? ›

Establishing the Optimal Learning Environment
  1. Having compassion and empathy. ...
  2. Creating a secure and dependable structure. ...
  3. Ramping up the positive. ...
  4. Supporting academic risk. ...
  5. Teaching active listening. ...
  6. Embedding strategy instruction. ...
  7. Building collaborative relationships.

How can teachers improve learning experience? ›

7 Ways That Teachers Can Improve Their Lessons
  1. Use ICT tools and digital game-based learning.
  2. Differentiate between students.
  3. Use the flipped classroom model.
  4. Encourage cooperative learning.
  5. Communicate with colleagues.
  6. Communicate with parents.
  7. Create a welcoming environment.
  8. Conclusion.
7 Sept 2021

What are your learning goals? ›

Learning goals are the intended purposes and desired achievements of a particular course, which generally identify the knowledge, skills, and capacities a student in that class should achieve.

Should success criteria be differentiated? ›

Success criteria, and the ways in which students might work towards the objective, should be differentiated. However, the learning objective should be the same for all students. This is a good way of ensuring that your learning objective is really a learning objective, and not just a shopping list of activities.

What is the difference between success criteria and acceptance criteria? ›

As per PMBOK5 “Acceptance criteria are a set of conditions that is required to be met before deliverables are accepted”. Success Criteria on the other hand is more of project management practice where success factors like cost, schedule, customer satisfaction, cost benefit analysis, ROI etc. are evaluated.

What is the purpose of success criteria? ›

Success criteria helps students know what success looks like. When students know this, they are more likely to plan and predict, set goals, and acquire a stronger sense of how to judge their own progress (p. xvi). Success criteria really provides students with an opportunity to assess their own learning.

What are the criteria to develop a good learning experience for success? ›

Three key principles for effective learning

To design an effective adult learning experience, we need to: understand the learner's context (past, present and future); establish and respond to the learner's existing level of knowledge; and. provide adequate and appropriate practice over time.

What are the success criteria for a project? ›

Often, project success criteria fall into three main categories: cost, scope and time. If you're able to bring your project in on time and on budget, while achieving its stated scope, then it's safe to call it a success. However, when defining your criteria, it's a good idea to be a little more specific.

Who came up with learning intentions and success criteria? ›

I often work with our novice teachers and student teachers by reviewing their lesson plans and recommending literacy skills that reinforce their learning intentions and success criteria, which are defined by Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey as “what you want students to know and be able to do by the end of one or more ...

Why is it important to have learning intentions? ›

Learning Intentions are descriptions of what learners should know, understand and be able to do by the end of a learning period or unit. Learning intentions are the basis for tracking student progress, providing feedback and assessing achievement.

Why is it important that learning intentions should be clear? ›

Learners tend to learn more effectively when they are clear about the purpose of learning. Knowing where you are headed does not mean that the tasks needs to have every single detail mapped out for you, but it does require a clarity of the purpose of learning.

What is the difference between objectives and success criteria? ›

The goal and objectives frame the project's work and direction. The success criteria frame how the objectives are achieved. Goals are high-level statements that provide the overall context defining what the project is trying to achieve.

How can you improve learning in the classroom? ›

Implementation Ideas:
  1. Ask students to share information about each other's backgrounds and academic interests.
  2. Encourage students to prepare together for classes or exams.
  3. Create study groups within your course.
  4. Ask students to give constructive feedback on each other's work and to explain difficult ideas to each other.

How do students learn best in the classroom? ›

Students learn best when they're challenged with novelty, a variety of materials, and a range of instructional strategies. Law of feedback. Effective learning takes place when students receive immediate and specific feedback on their performance.

How do you ensure student learning in your classroom? ›

Here are the measures that you can take to engage students in learning:
  1. Tap into students' prior knowledge.
  2. Learn students' interests.
  3. Organize classroom discussions.
  4. Design highly relevant learning activities.
  5. Integrate Modern Technology.
  6. Foster Competition among Students.
21 Nov 2017

What is the single most important criteria for the success of many projects? ›

Completing a project within budget is the most critical criterion for project success. Projects are typically staffed with people from several different functional areas who may have more loyalty to their function than to the project.

What is the difference between success criteria and success factors? ›

Project success criteria are dependent variables that measure the successful outcome of a project, while project success factors are the independent elements of a project that can increase the likelihood of success.

What are the key success factors of project management? ›

Five Critical Success Factors for Project Managers
  • Agree on the project goals. ...
  • Develop clearly defined plans with assigned responsibilities and accountabilities. ...
  • Manage the project scope effectively. ...
  • Cultivate constant effective communications. ...
  • Make sure you have management support.
3 Aug 2010

How do you state a learning intention? ›

Learning intentions should make clear what students will be learning about, not how this learning will be achieved, that is, to the activities and tasks of the lesson. For example, 'Complete all of the questions on page 45 of your textbook' is not a learning intention – it is a statement about an activity.

What success criteria means? ›

WHAT ARE SUCCESS CRITERIA? • The standards/levels by which to judge whether an objective/goal/ target/outcome has been achieved/successful. • Success criteria are linked to intended outcomes and targets e.g. of action plans, of strategic plans.

How do you write a learning goal for a lesson plan? ›

5 Steps to Writing Clear and Measurable Learning Objectives
  1. Identify the Level of Knowledge Necessary to Achieve Your Objective. ...
  2. Select an Action Verb. ...
  3. Create Your Very Own Objective. ...
  4. Check Your Objective. ...
  5. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.
5 Jun 2022

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