Simple ideas: analyse performance with the right people: students not staff

Teachers can spend an awful lots of time retrospectively analysing data. What is more effective is helping young people identify their own gaps in learning. In addition,  we also spend time marking exam papers and the danger is that we don’t do anything meaningful with the experience. No, schools aren’t exam factories, but a secondary school’s core purpose is to help students achieve the best they can in examinations.

Another danger is that students will revise what they already know, therefore wearing a well worn groove through a limited knowledge base. (I’m ignoring the fact that revision can be built in from lesson one of Year 10, if we start worrying about revisiting topics at this time of year, it’s too late)

This is a simple, yet effective idea, that has been used to enable students to clearly identify their weaknesses and knowledge gaps. Question level analysis is nothing new, but shouldn’t be limited to teachers. Its real power rests with doing it with young people.

The idea is simple – after a major assessment based upon a GCSE or A’Level exam, create a table. Then get students to go through the paper. I tend to use whole class feedback plus codes and circles on the paper. For example, ^ means ‘so what?’ as in a good point has been made, but needs to be expanded to gain a mark.

Those columns explained:

Question: The question number

Marks available: I played with breaking this down further, but students don’t need to be that granular.

Command word: interesting patterns emerge here, for example, students may do well on ‘Describe’ and ‘state’ but not ‘to what extent’.

Topic / skill / AO: useful headline stating what topic that question was about. I never used to share the assessment objectives, but it’s useful for students to understand where their marks come from:

This is very useful for confidence (only 10% straight recall of knowledge and 41% for application and 28% of skills – retrieval practice is great, but only when students deliberately practice applying the knowledge to novel questions).

My mark: Students fill this in. How many marks did they get?

CR Code: these are my own short marking codes, pinched from the legend that is Ali Murray, OTHO: on the other hand. C – conclusion. ATQ – Answer the Question. PSD – Place Specific Detail. These are super quick to use.

Banned words: When marking I circle these. This is short hand for ‘if you didn’t use this word, you would have gained a mark.’ People. Pollution. Affect etc…

RAG: after this process, students reflect and identify the topics and areas that they need to work on.

Feedback from students and staff is that this works well to help improve performance and identify gaps in knowledge.

Not fancy, just graft and basics. I should add that I follow this up with a 1:1 conversation with each student.

Image: Photo by Fabrizio Conti on Unsplash

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