Assessment for Learning
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When students know the learning intention of a lesson, they

  • are helped to focus on the purpose of the activity, rather than simply completing the activity;
  • know where to focus their efforts - ie which part of the activity actually encompasses the learning;
  • are more likely to stay 'on task' and less likely to be confused or distracted;
  • can take more responsibility for learning.

Focusing on the learning - the skills, knowledge and understanding - rather than on the context has the advantage of making it more likely that students will be able to transfer their learning from one context to another.

Learning Intentions Diagram

Having decided on the learning intention, teachers plan a series of teaching and learning activities to help students learn the knowledge and/or skills and achieve the understanding described.

While questioning the students, they keep the learning intention in mind and this provides a focus for the lesson.

They design an assessment task which will allow students to demonstrate that they have achieved the learning intention and provide students with the success criteria so that they will know what they need to do to show that they have achieved the learning intention.

They make certain that feedback to students about their performance focuses on the learning intention and success criteria; likewise, when students assess their own performance, they too focus on the learning intention and success criteria.

Other professional learning modules on this website explore the other Assessment for Learning strategies referred to in this diagram - success criteria, questioning, teacher and peer feedback and student self-assessment.


  • Clarke, S, McCallum, B and Lopez-Charles, G 2001, Gillingham Partnership formative assessment project: Interim report on the first term of the project - communicating learning intentions, developing success criteria and pupil self-evaluation. (Available on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority website: downloaded August 2008.)
  • Clarke, S, Timperley, H, and Hattie, J 2003, Unlocking formative assessment; Practical strategies for enhancing students' learning in the primary and intermediate classroom. Hodder Moa Beckett, New Zealand.
  • Clarke, S 2005, Formative assessment in the secondary classroom, Hodder Murray, UK, ch 2.
  • Glasson, T 2009, Improving student achievement: A practical guide to Assessment for Learning, Curriculum Corporation, Carlton South, Australia, ch. 1