Example of a below average no bias profile

The profile for Elena Mazzoni shows all four scores below average (stanines 2 or 3). The overlapping confidence bands for the four batteries indicate an even profile of below average scores. Elena has SAS of 81, 84, 79 and 81 on the Verbal, Quantitative, Non-verbal and Spatial Batteries respectively, placing her in stanine 2 on each battery.

  • This is a below average no bias profile, although both verbal and spatial abilities are low.
  • The student is likely to perform at a low level in most areas of learning, whether verbally or visually based.
  • The student may struggle with learning across many areas and is likely to need support through specific interventions, well-targeted learning materials and a range of different learning methods.

What does this look like in the classroom?

Elena’s profile is, in some ways, the opposite of Gabriel’s: all her scores are consistent, but at the opposite end of the scale. For Elena, attainment is likely to be relatively low, and basic literacy and numeracy skills are very likely to be a target for development.

Students with less developed reasoning abilities often have difficulty in learning abstract concepts.

  • Few have effective strategies for learning and remembering. Therefore, they tend to approach learning tasks in a trial-and-error fashion and do not spend much time planning before attempting to solve a problem.
  • As a result, they may not transfer knowledge and skills learned in one context to another context, unless prompted to do so.
  • Such students may have difficulty detecting relationships, similarities and differences in their new knowledge and they may be easily distracted by obvious but irrelevant details in problems.

To support students like this, teachers need to ensure that planned objectives, structured activities and likely outcomes are all clearly identified in language that makes sense to the learner.

  • For example, learning objectives can be phrased in the form of a question that is continually referred to during the learning process (So, can you describe the process of photosynthesis and why it is so important?).
  • Teachers can rephrase and repurpose the question as the lesson progresses to ensure that students remain focused on the key objective.
  • The question format also makes it easier for students to respond to both classroom questions and written assignments. As the teacher progresses systematically through the lesson, short specific activities with clearly defined outcomes help to keep students confidently on task.
  • Opportunities to share and present their learning in language they understand will further enhance their self-esteem.

Where a written or oral assignment is a key outcome, the teacher should ensure that students have a clear understanding of the processes, structure and criteria that will lead to success.

  • To ensure this, teachers can model precisely what students need to do, giving examples wherever possible. These can include what students achieved in a previous year. For example, Have a close look at this work from last year. It’s good, but I’m confident that you can do better. Can you see any areas where what we have discussed just now could improve things?
  • The teacher can then break down the criteria that were used to assess student achievement, making clear what each criterion is, what it looks like with a real example and how important it is in relation to the overall mark or grade.
  • Throughout this process, the teacher will be modelling expectations for learning and, as Hattie explains, “showing students what success looks like”.

Modelling a process derived from an existing example is now often called WAGOLL, or What A Good One Looks Like. There is a growing body of support information around this, including the website Literacy WAGOLL https://www.literacywagoll.com/.

Across the grades, when instruction was challenging, relevant, and academically demanding, then all students had higher engagement and teachers talked less – and the greatest beneficiaries were at-risk students.

Hattie (2012)

Further guidance on how to use modelling successfully in the classroom is provided in the weak quantitative profile for Aelwyn Probert on pages 105-106.

Students with low scores may have difficulty identifying what is important to learn and judging where they should focus their attention in a learning situation.

  • Therefore, they need very specific directions before they start a task. For example, if students are required to take notes, all students will benefit if they are given information about what they should take notes on and what these should look like.

Helpful models can support teachers in sharing this understanding. For example, the well-known Cornell method, devised at Cornell University in the 1950s, can be effective in supporting student learning. This method provides a systematic format for condensing and organising notes, using a two-column structure in which a note-taking column (usually on the right) is supported by a questions or keywords column (usually on the left). At the foot of each page a section of five to seven lines is reserved for a summary of the new information in the notes.

In 2008, a Wichita State University study found that using the Cornell method provided high-school students with further support in synthesising and applying new knowledge.

Promoting a positive attitude to learning is essential if all students (whether extrinsically or intrinsically motivated) are to give their best in the classroom.

  • Establishing routines that promote a positive approach to behaviour management – what Rogers calls ‘positive correction’ – will directly influence the learning of all students in the classroom.

We have to build a relationship – teaching is a relational dynamic journey with your students, it’s not simply a little learning factory. Whether we like it or not, the relationship we build will be there whatever – for good, bad or worse.

Rogers (2017)

Finally, teachers can utilise opportunities for regular breaks that allow students to get up, stretch, move and breathe deeply. These can be fun, but also valuable in re-energising and re-motivating students who have been sitting in one position for some time. There is a wide range of simple classroom activities that can help to refocus tired minds – one example is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0uiA6UITDw.

Where the teacher has identified students like Elena, specific in-classroom support should include direct support through individual coaching strategies, for example, providing step-by-step resources that refer back to the key lesson objectives, addressing low self-esteem or motivation, or enabling pair-work opportunities with a more able student. More specific activity ideas are included in Table 2.

Examples of strategies for a below average no bias profile

Teachers should be focused on using support strategies that encourage below average no bias profile students to move securely in their learning journey by ensuring that they clearly understand the direction of the learning and the nature of the expected outcomes. This is more than the common (but usually unhelpful) practice of the teacher writing up a learning objective or intention and the students diligently copying this down. As indicated previously, what is essential is providing models of success for the learner that clearly indicate the sequenced steps needed to achieve the learning goal.

1. Designing engaging and effective lessons

As Hattie and Willingham have both made clear, when teachers “look for the interesting beginning to a lesson – for the hook, and the motivating question” – this may not be the attention-grabber that the less-confident learner needs. Willingham expands on this in his book Why Don’t Students Like School?

When you plan a lesson, you start with the information you want students to know by its end. As a next step, consider what the key question for that lesson might be and how you can frame that question so it will have the right level of difficulty to engage your students and so respect your students’ cognitive limitations.

This thinking is linked to the concept of backwards design – whether of a whole curriculum or a single lesson. The key principle is to identify the end in mind. The model has three key stages:

  • identify the desired results;
  • determine the acceptable evidence;
  • plan learning experiences and instruction accordingly.

The concept of backwards design in teacher lesson planning was notably developed by McTighe and Wiggins in their book Understanding by Design (1998). In subsequent work, they developed the use of the acronym WHERE to identify the process involved in this approach to learning:

  • W stands for students knowing where they are heading, why they are heading there, what they know, where they might go wrong in the process, and what is required of them.
  • H stands for hooking the students on the topic of study.
  • E stands for students exploring and experiencing ideas and being equipped with the necessary understanding to master the standard/outcome being taught.
  • R stands for providing opportunities for students to rehearse, revise and refine their work.
  • E stands for student evaluation.

However, teachers should be aware of the dangers of too rigid an adherence to this approach. Teachers’ deep understanding of student levels of learning derived from, among other things, evaluations of student learning potential like those identified in CAT4 assessments, will ensure the flexibility that allows students to be motivated, challenged and rewarded by their learning. Where assessments are driven by a rigid learning goal and where there is little opportunity for student personalisation and teacher serendipity, backwards design can limit the range of student achievement rather than enhance it.

We contend that teachers can best raise test scores over the long haul by teaching the key ideas and processes contained in content standards in rich and engaging ways; by collecting evidence of student understanding of that content through robust local assessments rather than one-shot standardised testing; and by using engaging and effective instructional strategies that help students explore core concepts through inquiry and problem-solving.

McTighe et al. (2004)

Teachers should note the adjectives used here – rich, engaging, effective – and ensure that their own approaches to supporting low even profile learning are not reductive but imaginative, expansive and, of course, supportive.

2. New learning and contextualisation

Teachers should ensure that any new learning is explained in the context of a previous lesson. A lot of the intended benefit of a spiral curriculum, which revisits topics to a deeper and deeper extent, tends to be lost since students do not perceive the curriculum continuity and have not consolidated and remembered the previous content. Teachers should contextualise their lessons within their own subject – for example, Now, remember last week when we were looking at the ways that the ancient Egyptians preserved their dead? Well, today we shall…’

In addition, they should make links across subjects, where relevant and applicable – for example, Last week in English you wrote a persuasive piece of writing on going vegetarian for a week, right? Well, today in history I want you to use some of the same key techniques to write a speech persuading the House of Commons to reduce the voting age to 16.

Using text types to support cross-curricular subject links can help students to see structural connections in their writing tasks in different subjects. More guidance on this is given in the moderate verbal bias profile of Shauna Matthews (see page 59).

3. Addressing self-esteem and motivation

Teachers should use strategies that help develop student confidence across the ability spectrum, without pandering to low expectations. In this way, they nurture the growth mindset of the whole group by using language that encourages and challenges every student (OK, now this may look difficult – but I’m confident that you can all do it. Let’s give it our best shot!). Similarly, teachers can use appropriate language to praise both aspiration and method (Well done! You used some great strategies to work out the answer to that question).

Whilst there is little empirical evidence that specific growth mindset programmes will advance students’ academic achievement, the value of nurturing a ‘can do’ attitude in the classroom is clear. Teachers may find the material in this presentation a useful starting point - https://www.smore.com/ ydvwt-growth-mindset-an-introduction (‘to get something you never had, you have to do something you never did’)

4. Developing a growth mindset and supporting students with personal knowledge about individual learners

  • Knowing students well allows the teacher to harness external interests – for example, sports and hobbies – and use them as a route to develop knowledge, skills and understanding across curriculum subjects.
  • Good teachers build relationships with their students firstly by their own good example – promoting a learning culture, showing persistence, acting morally and so on – but then by inculcating that positive attitude in their students by their own actions.
  • For developing growth mindset, the following website provides useful support for teachers, https://www.mindsetworks.com alongside Dweck’s original text on the subject (2007), as well as this TED Talk video, https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hiiEeMN7vbQ.

Teachers can help to promote a student’s developing sense of self-awareness about their personal learning attributes through positive, caring and clearly defined interactions.

  • Average-achieving no bias learners may not share common characteristics in the same way that high-achieving no bias students often do.

Identifying strengths as well as weaknesses in terms of specific interests and achievements can provide achievable relevant goals for students to pursue. The importance of challenge will remain, but it must be contextualised through clearly targeted expectations. Even more than other students, those with less well-developed reasoning abilities will make greater effort and have greater engagement if teachers can discover and build on their interests. Ensuring that teachers use the language of aspiration, challenge and success in the classroom and expect this from their students will generate a learning culture for all.

Users of GL’s Pupil Attitudes to Self and School (PASS®) can access resources and interventions for when attitudes, self-esteem and motivation are particularly holding students’ learning back from where they would expect.

Where the teacher has identified students like Elena, specific in-classroom support should include direct support through individual coaching strategies – for example, providing step-by-step resources that refer back to the key lesson objectives, addressing low self-esteem or motivation, or enabling pair-work opportunities with a more able student. More specific activity ideas are included in Table 2.

Table 2 Classroom support activities

  Classroom support activities Assessing through CAT4 profiles
Ages 5-8    

Use BusyThings apps to individualise the learning: https://www.busythings.co.uk/ apps.

BusyThings is mapped to the UK national curriculum but is suitable for international applications. The full UK online programme has activities in English and literacy, phonics, maths, science, history, geography, art and music and from Early Years through to Key Stages 1 and 2.

Extend vocabulary learning, from a list of isolated word-wall entries used in specific writing activities to instead feature in a wide range of contexts including spoken usage. Use different vocabulary according to a student’s individual developing vocabulary.
Mathematics Make up bingo cards with numbers that correspond to the correct answers to several predetermined maths problems. Use a 5 x 5 square or whatever number is appropriate according to ability and/ or time available. If the correct answer appears on the card, the student can mark it off. The game continues until someone gets five across, down or diagonally and calls out Bingo! Plan the activity as needed with each group taught. Maths activities at this age – for example, the maths bingo game (left) – allow teachers to easily apply the activity to different CAT4 bias types. Holding up a completed bingo card, a mini whiteboard or a completed shape or sum are all ways that a teacher can clearly differentiate without checking students’ work individually.
Science Demonstrate the rainbow walking water experiment (https://funlearningforkids. com/rainbow-walking-water-scienceexperiment-kids/) and then ask students to complete the experiment themselves using a simple science experiment template that includes equipment, method, prediction, results and conclusion sections. Use a simple science experiment template that includes essential components, for example, prediction, method, result. The teacher must actively demonstrate the process before students attempt their own experiment and write-up. Depending on their CAT4 bias type, ask students to complete using text or images, work in pairs or present their conclusions.
Humanities and Arts Watch Ron Berger’s Austin’s Butterfly video (https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=hqh1MRWZjms) and then recreate this instructional idea using the same idea to learning. Encourage students to objectively analyse their results using appropriate criteria. Use a wide range of five-minute lesson starters to challenge and support learners so that achievement is spread across a range of skills and attributes.
Ages 9-13    
Languages Using appropriate single word vocabulary, students are encouraged to speak out in pairs in the target language – focusing on accurate pronunciation and awarding themselves points for accuracy (pronunciation can be confirmed electronically using online sources, for example https://www.rocketlanguages.com/german/pronunciation/). Use mini whiteboards to improve vocabulary “Can you write a sentence that includes an adjective, a noun, an adverb and a verb in that order?”. The teacher can check on answers from students and then offer further challenges if student knowledge is secure (Right – well done! Now work with the person next to you and put your two sentences together so that they make good sense. Change anything you need to make the new sentence work.).
Mathematics Use the ‘nrich’ programme (https://nrich.maths.org/13922) to present a series of webinar activities that students can work on for between five and ten minutes. During this time, teachers comment online to ask questions on behalf of the class, or share ideas that have arisen. There is an opportunity for classes to upload photos of their work. With older students, teachers can incorporate further questions when seeking responses, whether for maths or any other subject. One way to distinguish clearly is to use the pose, pause, pounce, bounce technique. It is best described here: https://www.teachertoolkit.co.uk/2011/11/04/pose-pause-bounce-pounce/
Science Use the Ames Room experiment from The Royal Institution website (https://www. rigb.org/families/experimental/smallor-far-away) to develop understanding of perception and distance and to demonstrate the practical art/graphic potential in science. Show or download the video on the RI site and use the room templates provided. Use mini whiteboards again – students can give individual responses easily seen by the teacher, thus allowing for immediate feedback to students who need support. If a student has the correct answer, then the teacher can ask for an explanation or justification (Can you say more about your answer?) – this can then be shared with less-secure students.
Humanities and Arts Promote active rubric/criteria generation with students by delivering a lesson on Keith Haring’s art and style before asking students to create their own Haring paintings using a set of specific criteria (for example, the use thick black outlines, primary colours, cross and heart symbols and so on). Encourage students to mark work using the criteria in order to demonstrate objectivity in an art context. Less able students often believe that they are less creative than more able students. Creativity can be promoted using clear criteria (see above), and teachers can support this in arts-related subjects. Using an age-appropriate selection of classic photographs (for example, some from https://edition.cnn.com/2013/09/01/world/gallery/iconic-images/index.html), teachers can use Bloom’s Taxonomy questions to help develop visual literacy (https://www.photopedagogy.com/photo-literacy.html).
Ages 14-16    
Languages Research, create and give a drama-based scenario presentation on a literacy character currently studied. Explore the language development opportunities in a PGL leadership course - https://create.arduino.cc/ projecthub/JulienChateau/spideruino5915e9?ref=tag&ref_id=lego&offset=0.
Mathematics Ask students Why? and What if…? to generate deeper thinking before giving extension activities like solving magic square problems.

Undertake an Extended Project Qualification (EPQ). Students follow an individual research project on a topic of their choice and receive an internationally recognised qualification on completion. Projects can be multidisciplinary and can allow students to further their interest in STEM and gain experience of extended practical work.

Explore the range of real-world STEM projects from UK-based Crest Awards - https://www.crestawards.org/.

Science Explore the Arduino Hub and identify Lego projects that students could undertake independently (for example, making a robotic arachnid: https://create. arduino.cc/projecthub/JulienChateau/spideruino-5915e9?ref=tag&refid=lego&offset=0).
Humanities and Arts Explore the Doodle for Google site and encourage students to research and then develop a Google doodle to be entered in competition - https://doodles.google.com/d4g/. Use Model United Nations (MUN) to provide students with a forum to hone skills in diplomacy, negotiation, critical thinking, compromise, public speaking, writing and research - https://www.nmun.org/.