Learning intentions and success criteria

Learning intentions and success criteria

It is now common practice to see teachers begin their lessons with clearly stated learning intentions or goals and success criteria which students dutifully copy. I recently asked a student why he was copying these things. He replied, ‘I don’t know – we just copy them down while Miss marks the roll.’ 

Knowing the purpose of the lesson and whether or not that purpose has been achieved are critical to effective learning but only if students deeply understand what they are doing, how they are doing it and how they will know if they have been successful.

Here are a few tips for making this practice more effective:

  1. Ensure that the students read the learning intention/success criteria a couple of times.
  2. Explain what the learning intention/success criteria mean in student friendly language.
  3. Ensure students know the meanings of the cognitions.
  4. After students have copied the learning intention/success criteria, ask them to form groups of 3. Person 1 tells the others what they have to do, person 2, why they have to do it and person 3 how they will know if they’ve been successful. 
  5. At critical junctures in the lesson return to the learning intention/success criteria and check progress.
  6. Ask students to reflect on their own learning in light of the learning intention/success criteria.

If the pedagogical practice of sharing the learning intention and success criteria with the students is to make a difference, then they need to do more than just copy them.