Checklists for students: efficiency, autonomy and excellence in the classroom

Improving Teaching

Teachers are eternally prey to disappointed expectations.  Students gets ‘stuck’, and stop.  Their work lacks essential features, which have been emphasised many times.  Teachers repeat simple points, again and again.  These omissions, misunderstandings and misrememberings are frustrating and time-consuming, for students and teachers alike.  How can we reduce uncertainty and remind students of key actions, without adding to the welter of existing demands we face?

Checklists are a powerful way for teachers to recall key actions under pressure, but their power for students is greater still.  They offer immediate access to support, hints and reminders.  Students using them experience productive independence, as they take responsibility for recalling and completing key actions.  They are also a powerful tool for formative assessment:

  • Checklists help students master processes: through using them, students internalise the steps to writing a good paragraph, or conducting a calculation.
  • Checklists help students create excellent products: they are a reminder of what a great…

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