Success criteria- being transparent about the intended learning
I discussed the huge importance of challenging, explicit goals in terms of their large effect sizes
on this webpage.
The clarification of success criteria is an important component in ensuring
that the learning goals are understood by the learner, and that the
classroom activities are designed by the teacher to comprehensively address
those learning goals.
The Assessment Reform Group (2002) stated, “For effective learning to
take place learners need to understand what it is they are trying to
achieve - and want to achieve it. Understanding and commitment follows
when learners have some part in deciding goals and identifying criteria
for assessing progress.
Communicating assessment criteria involves discussing them with
learners using terms that they can understand, providing examples of
how the criteria can be met in practice and engaging learners in peer-
Product and Process Success Criteria
Teachers commonly use product success criteria when setting the objectives for a lesson, e.g. “By
the end of today’s lesson you will know how the heart works”.
Process success criteria are more detailed, task specific success criteria that guide learners whilst
they are engaged in learning. Process criteria summarise the key steps and/or knowledge that the
learner needs to acquire to fulfil the objectives (Clarke, 2005). They provide the detail that
underpins the huge effect size (d=0.97) attributed by Marzano to the act of specifying goals.
Be wary of Clarke’s final point on the value of success criteria however- “Quality comes from the
teaching and feedback, not the success criteria.” Having success criteria neatly listed on the
whiteboard or on a pre-printed sheet in a learner’s book isn’t enough. They need to be actively
addressed through the learning activities, and the progress of students needs to be monitored
throughout, with the provision of rich feedback and re-direction when errors or omissions are
This really useful guide (I have converted it to a PDF
from its native Publisher format) is by Jo Walls from
Norham CTC. She explores sophisticated use of success
criteria, emphasizing the role of defining them with
learners. More info can be found on
Grade Assessed Tasks
The use of explicit process criteria in a differentiated way is explored on the Grade Assessed Task
page. Such tasks have the potential for application in all subject areas.
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So... examine the evidence
So... adopt evidence-based methods
So... enhance learning