Assessment Strategies

Assessment informs the teacher, enabling appropriate tasks to be set to progress learning. At the same time, it informs the child about the progress they are making.

Active assessment can take place through many activities, and using different strategies. Here are some examples to consider:

  • Doing
  • Drawing and annotating
  • Responding to questions
  • Talking
  • Writing

boys and cyclinder

Watch children carrying out their investigations to assess learning as it is happening. For example, you could observe how children select suitable equipment and work out how to make their test fair.

Find out what children know by asking them to describe and explain what is happening as they carry out their experiments. Ask children to explain what they are trying to find out or why they are repeating results.

Check that children use equipment safely and correctly and make accurate measurements. Be familiar with ways children could make their results inaccurate, e.g. children may lift up a measuring cylinder to fill it or take a thermometer out of a liquid to read it.

parachute drawing

Drawing is a useful task for children to summarise what they know about a topic or to apply what they have learnt to a creative idea.

Ask children to add notes to their drawings to explain what is happening. You may need to ask children to explain their annotations further.

Alternatively, provide children with a diagram and labels to cut and paste together, e.g. force arrows on a diagram.


Teachers ask children questions to develop children’s thinking and find out about their knowledge and understanding. Questioning should engage children and promote their problem solving and reasoning skills. Effective questioning challenges children to apply their existing knowledge to a new situation and extend their thinking from concrete and factual to analytical.

Ask children open questions and give thinking time for children to discuss and prepare their answers. Closed questions can be answered yes/no or with one word; open questions cannot.

For example:

Closed Question Open Question
Have you collected enough measurements? How will you know when you have collected enough measurements?
Is there a pattern in your results? Describe the pattern of your results. Talk to a partner first and jot down your answers on a whiteboard.
Was your investigation a fair test? Discuss in your group and write down a list of at least three ways that you made sure you carried out a fair test.

Encourage children to take risks, as wrong answers are an important part of learning. If you ask children to speculate, be neutral in your response to their answers and encourage them to think things through. Watch this example:

video: talking

children talkingDiscussion about scientific ideas plays an important part in children’s learning about science. It helps them to clarify their thinking, justify their ideas and base conclusions on evidence rather than feelings.

Talking in science should give children the opportunity to share, discuss and evaluate their ideas.

Assess talking by eavesdropping on small groups and giving them suggestions that will take their learning deeper. Alternatively, ask each group to feedback to the class to share everyone’s ideas and ask groups to peer assess each other’s ideas.

Purposeful talk between the teacher and children, and between children, is an essential prerequisite for good writing in science.

Use the sequence:

Think - Talk - Write


Use writing that requires engagement, decision-making and thinking by children. Teach children to write explanations, linking cause with effect, using connectives such as ‘because’ and using their scientific vocabulary accurately.

Give children opportunities to show their scientific knowledge and understanding through writing in a variety of styles, including the personal and imaginative.

Providing feedback to children...