Questions for Reflection:
How do your students know what success looks like?
How could this help them get better?
Have you and your students ever co-constructed success criteria?

What are success criteria? 


Success Criteria - What's important when solving math problems? What makes a solid essay? Have I created a robust website? How do I know if my oral presentation is complete?

If we want our students to be able to answer these questions, then we need to introduce success criteria in our classrooms. Students need to clearly understand what success looks like and what they need to do to achieve success. Success criteria provide the tools for students to monitor their progress and make judgements about the quality of their work.

What is co-constructing criteria?

By developing success criteria together, or co-constructing criteria, students and their teacher(s) develop common language about what success looks like. When students develop success criteria with their teacher, they begin by sharing their initial ideas about thecharacteristics of successful performance. As learning progresses, students continuously reflect on and apply the criteria. Students also use the criteria to judge their own work as well as that of their peers who also share a common language.

(See ‘Resources’ below for links to work by Anne Davies and Sandra Herbst for more in-depth explanations of Co-constructing Success Criteria)

Why would we want to co-construct criteria in adult education?

We want students to be autonomous, independent learners who are assessment capable and can monitor and assess their own work. Through the co-construction of criteria, students are developing lifelong learning skills while they gain a deeper understanding of their course requirements.

See Troy’s goals in relation to developing success criteria with his Living English students

When students co-construct criteria with their teacher, they have a vested interest in the learning and assessment process because they helped to create their own success criteria. They become more engaged and they know what is expected of them.  Students can then help themselves and each other submit quality work.

So…What does it look like in the classroom?

Developing criteria for success with your learners – or co-constructing criteria – may look different depending on the subject matter or levels of learners you are working with. Some people may decide to go through this process in small groups or in large groups, on paper or digitally. Essentially, as long as you are working with your students as they identify what success looks like in relation to your course – you are co-constructing criteria.

Watch Troy and his students go through a process of co-constructing criteria around the writing of an e-mail

So… What next?

One of the benefits of going through the process of developing success criteria with your students is that the process continues well beyond the initial activity.

Watch what Troy has to say about what happens next


Success Criteria, by tracyrosen

Interested in learning more?

Speak with your pedagogical consultant: In 2016, many of the pedagogical consultants in the nine English school board adult education sectors were involved in a project to develop a culture of formative assessment in our centres. Co-constructing criteria falls within this project and continues to be important.

Contact Tracy Rosen or Avi Spector

Learning resources created by Troy Bradley & his students (Teacher, LBPSB), Shiela Sachdeva (Consultant, LBPSB), and Tracy Rosen (RECIT Consultant, CSSMI), 2016.

All materials are expected to be reused and shared according to this Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 4.0