From Evidence to Classroom Practice – researchED St Albans

12 March 2018

Author: Kate Mouncey and Karen Roskilly - Sandringham Research School Leads

Last Saturday, 3rd March, saw us making our way through the snow and ice to our researchED conference, held here at Sandringham Research School.  What a fantastic day it was!  Not only did we both benefit from attending some of the many excellent workshops and sessions that were on offer (and resources from each of the sessions can be found here), but we were also delighted to be able to share and discuss some of the things we have being doing in our classrooms with delegates.

We focused on three main areas in our session, feedback, memory and metacognition, all of which have been the focus of Sandringham Research School training sessions this term and are particular areas of interest to us personally.  In each area, we identified some of the key pieces of research we had been influenced by and illustrated how we had used this research practically in our teaching.  Below is a quick summary of our session.


We spoke about four key things in this area: student response to feedback, checklists, no grades and use of peer and self-assessment.

Student response: Our discussion of this area was based on the work of Dylan Wiliam in Embedded Formative Assessment, who states “feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor” and we shared examples of how we encourage students to react to our feedback in our Sociology and Geography classrooms.  Classroom climate fundamentally underpins the success of this strategy for both of us, with relationships with students being key to them being able to ask for further support in using our written feedback.

Checklists: We were both influenced by Harry Fletcher-Wood here in putting checklists in place to encourage students to check their work before handing it in for feedback.  This should then reduce the amount of time you need to spend marking.  Another additional can be found in a blog here.

No grades: A study conducted by King’s College, London, in English schools, and referred to by Wiliam, found that both high- and low-attaining pupils were less likely to act on feedback if grades were awarded alongside comments.  This was supported by A Marked Improvement (2016) which suggest that grades can reduce the impact of formative comments by becoming the main focus of learners’ attention. As a result, we have explored different ways of giving feedback without grades, including providing the written feedback without a grade first and then providing a grade later one students have responded to their feedback.

Peer and self-assessment: Inspired by the diagram below taken from What Does This Looks Like in the Classroom?, we have been considering how to better use peer and self-assessment strategies.  For example, in Sociology students are asked to identify and highlight particular skills in their written work before handing in for marking.

Wiliam 4 quarters marking



Memory clock: Here we spoke about the work of Dunlosky in Strengthening the Student Toolbox and how this had helped to inform the development of the Sandringham Memory Clock, which we use to support students in structuring their revision effectively.  You can read more about this here.

Quizzing: We also outlined how quizzing had become embedded in our classrooms, underpinned by The Science of Learning.

Cognitive load: This focused on how to reduce extraneous load in the resources we use, particularly powerpoints, with a clear illustration of before and after powerpoint slides in Geography.  We recently used Peps Mccrea’s book Memorable Teaching in a training session and this provides a very accessible source of information on this topic.



Meta-cognition approaches aim to help learners think about their own learning more explicitly and this has become an area we are trying to embed more formally into our teaching.

Exam wrappers: Here we came back to the topic of exam wrappers that we have blogged about previously, and how we had used them with the recent Year 13 Trial Exams.  The key thing is that before receiving feedback, we prompted our students to reflect on how they prepared for the exam including the study strategies they used.  After receiving their test feedback, we asked them to review the feedback to categorise any errors made and consider how they could prepare differently for the next assessment.  Examples of the exam wrappers we used can be found here.

Think aloud strategies:  Raihan (2011) states that “effective teachers think out loud on a regular basis to model this process for students. In this way, they demonstrate practical ways of approaching difficult problems while bringing to the surface the complex thinking processes that underlie reading comprehension, mathematical problem solving, and other cognitively demanding tasks”.  Inspired by blogs such as this one, we have been using a variety of think aloud strategies, for example thinking aloud in the classroom while interpreting an exam question so that students can see the complex thought processes behind understanding what an exam question is asking and how you might respond to it.

A link to our full presentation can be found here.


Posted on 12 March 2018
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