Success Criteria, Why Do I Always Get It Wrong?

The success criteria is like the lesson intention, there are so many different ways of achieving them that everyone seems to have their own special way!  In this blog I want to outline four different ways of producing success criteria.  I would recommend a quick read of The Assessment & Learning Pocketbook (Ian Smith (2007)) as it does a very nice job of outlining how to go about creating success criteria.  Please note I will not be discussing modelling, process, product, syntax or lexical usage to make it easier to understand the principles.

The success criteria tells the learner if they are doing the task correctly and how well or at what level they are working and as such the success criteria must be directly linked to the lesson intention.  The success criteria and learning intention form a symbiotic relationship making them mutually dependent on each other.

The Step-By-Step Success Criteria

This approach is often used with very low ability or when the learner is undertaking a complex task as it guides the learner through a sequence to achieve the outcome or objective.  The following example is for Maths and using the grid method to divide a number, although I have reduced the number of steps to simplify it.

You will be success if you can:

  • Draw a division grid
  • Place numbers in the correct cell on the grid
  • Clearly indicate where you have carried a number
  • Your answer is correct

Think of it like learning how to do a new sporting skill and each step is a coaching point.  Once the learner has the skill you change the success criteria which requires more cognitive thought on the learners behalf (see bloom success criteria below).

The Menu Success Criteria

For me a menu success criteria is like using the keywords off the wall display, keyword list or table plate. An example of a menu success criteria is:

I want you to focus any three of these topics\ keywords in your work

  • Capital letters and full stops
  • Connective words
  • Adverbs
  • Adjectives
  • Verbs
  • Nouns
  • Paragraphs
  • Descriptive language
  • Third person

One of the biggest issues with this method is that it does not indicate how successful or at what level the learner is working.  An alternative method, which I have used in the past for independent project work is providing a range of success criteria from which the learner must choose (i.e. any two from each column). For example,

Styling Structure Content
Use a range of colour to attract the audience attention Use a common structure which allows the user to transfer learning from similar products Use language which is accessible by the intended audience
Use a small range of fonts which capture intent/ meaning of the product or make it easy to read Use design features which aid in readability Use quality images which you have manipulated to suit your purpose

Again this does not indicate to the learner at what level they are working.  Of course you could create table with levelled success criteria and depending on the learners aspirational learning target they choose from the appropriate table, see below.

The Levelled or Differentiated Success Criteria

The levelled or differentiated success criteria is possibly the most common type and offer targets which are levelled, allowing the student to self-assess their current learning and product.  This success criteria can also be used to allow a levelled development of the task.  For example, when a student has completed the merit criteria, ask them to move on to the distinction criteria.   You could even ask the learner to get a friend to level their work to confirm that they have achieved all the merit criteria.

Pass, Must or Level 3 Merit, Should or Level 4 Distinction, Could or Level 5
Use colours to attract the audience attention Use a range of colour to attract the audience attention Use a range of colour to attract the audience attention and achieved the client’s housestyle
Use a easy to read to allow the audience to quickly read your text Use a small range of fonts which capture intent/ meaning of the product or make it easy to read Use a small range of fonts that capture intent/ meaning of the product or make it easy to read.  Where appropriate, use  fonts which are found on client’s other products

The Bloom Success Criteria

The bloom’s taxonomy provides a levelled list of keywords which indicates the level of understanding of the information, topic, and/ or task.  Therefore the keyword determines the learners success.  For example.

  • I can state a simple definition for a printer
  • I can describe how a printer works
  • I can compare and contrast a laser printer with an inkjet printer

Alternatively, you can use this approach to get the learner to explain what skills they have been learning rather than the knowledge they have learnt by using ‘I Can’ statements.

  • I can state the coaching points for chest passing a basketball
  • I can describe what a basketball chest pass would look and feel like
  • I can compare and contrast a basketball chest pass with a basketball bounce pass

Of course you could use the must, should and could within this the success criteria approach.  However, they tend to become levelled lesson objectives:

  • I will (must) be able to state the coaching points for chest passing a basketball
  • I should be able to describe what a basketball chest pass would look and feel like
  • I could be able to compare and contrast a basketball chest pass with a basketball bounce pass

 

Where Next

Objectives, Outcomes and Learning Statement: The Debate

Success Criteria, Why Do I Always Get It Wrong?
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