The aim of the project was to increase pupil’s confidence in maths and for them to be unafraid to make mistakes. We wanted pupils to be able to break down questions in assessments that they got wrong and try to identify where they went wrong. Pupils would then be able to understand what they should do next time. This should increase their confidence in maths and their assessment scores. Pupils were given a book of examples of questions they had made mistakes in, along with the correct solution, to use as a revision aid. The hope was that pupils would become familiar with this process and use their mistakes as a positive part of their learning.
Overall, the project had a positive impact on the class. Analysing solutions helped pupils work out where they had gone wrong and discussions about wrong answers in class helped them realise that others made mistakes too. This boosted their confidence and understanding. The pupils also changed the way they dealt with mistakes and no longer seen them as negative. Some pupils who really struggled with the assessment and made several mistakes, did find the process overwhelming. They didn’t really know where to start as they had got so many questions wrong, and the process highlighted that. This was perhaps a negative experience for them. The approach did work for pupils who had only dropped a few marks, as they were curious to see where this had happened.
If we were to repeat the project, we would get the pupils to work in groups and work out where they made mistakes together and what the solution might be. We would also get anyone who really struggled to pair up with someone who didn’t and get them to discuss some of the questions together.
It took a little longer to get the project started as we clarified the focus and faced several restrictions which meant there were competing priorities within the school. Once we got started, we stuck to the planned timelines. We did feel that the full impact of the project was likely to be felt later in the year, when the pupils faced a bigger assessment.
We originally thought we would use the same process with homework, starters and plenaries, as well as assessments. Realising that this would take too much time, we decided just to focus on assessments. We felt this would be more effective for the pupils overall.
The project changed the way that we review assessments. We would now always get pupils to see if they could identify where they went wrong, before going over the solutions. This approach has also highlighted topics we need to spend more teaching time on, where a lot of pupils were getting the same question wrong. The process encouraged pupils to check their work carefully to avoid careless mistakes.
In general, the project has helped with pupil’s confidence and understanding as it has highlighted areas that need to be developed further. This encouraged them to take more responsibility for their learning and gave them an idea of their strengths and areas that needed developed. Since the project, pupils are asking more questions which also shows that, for some, this has had an impact on their confidence. This is backed up by the results of the end of project survey, and we will see at the end of year assessment if there has been an impact on attainment.
Staff constraints hampered the ability of this project to impact the wider school. We will share the project with others in the department, who will hopefully use the insights. A recent school survey showed that 52% of pupils didn’t enjoy maths. If this is due to a lack of confidence, this will have an impact on the ability of pupils to enjoy the subject, until we address this issue.
An example of some work by one of the pupils showing how they learned from their mistakes is below:
The results of the project have only been shared, to date, with one colleague who found it interesting and saw the impact made. We will share the project with the wider department when given the chance.
The next step is to share the project with the department and encourage others to try the approaches used. It would be good to see the assessment results of the class at the end of the year, to understand if there has been an improvement in attainment. We would also like to repeat the project with another class, perhaps a lower ability class, to see if we get similar results and manage to improve their confidence in maths.