Multiple choice questioning and whole class feedback

Science pupils aged 11–12 used Learning by Questions (LbQ) for 45 minutes each week for 18 weeks. After the majority of pupils completed a question set, teachers used the assessment data provided by LbQ to provide whole-class feedback which was predominantly re-teaching content or explaining the answers for difficult questions.

Pupils completed at least two different question sets from LbQ in each session. Pupils completed a question set and then teachers gave whole-class feedback on the questions that pupils struggled with the most. This process was then repeated with another question set. Pupils were set either questions on what they were currently studying or questions to help them retrieve what had been studied previously. The impact of using this innovation was measured against business as usual in similar science classes.

Description of the school
Emmanuel College is a high-performing secondary school in Gateshead, in the north east of England, with 1,426 pupils on roll. The school has pupils from the age of 11 to 18 years old and has quite a wide and diverse catchment area as it stretches into some parts of Newcastle. The current percentage of pupils who are eligible for free school meals stands at 8.4% which is well below that the national average of 14.1% (January 2019). However, the catchment has changed over the past few years. Of the 168 pupils in the sample 22% were eligible for fee school meals (FSM), 10% had English as an additional language (EAL) and 7% of pupils had special educational needs (SEN).

Summary of evaluation
One hundred and sixty-eight pupils in six classes participated in the evaluation. Half of the classes were randomly allocated to the intervention group and the remaining classes formed the control group. All pupils were given a baseline knowledge assessment (the pre-test) at the beginning of the year on the curriculum which they would study. This knowledge-based assessment was closely mapped against curriculum documentation and was designed to assess pupils’ scientific knowledge. All pupils then completed the same knowledge assessment 20 weeks later with added recall questions (the post-test) to measure what they had learnt throughout that time period.

Summary of findings
The effect size for all pupils was extremely positive (+0.94) and for those who were eligible for free schools meals it was even greater (+0.97). Through staff voice there was also a noticeable reduction in staff workload in terms of planning lessons, marking and feedback.

Lead school

  • Emmanuel College, Gateshead

Year levels

  • Year 7


  • Science

Main findings

  • Effect size for all pupils = +0.94
  • Effect size for those who were eligible for free schools = +0.97

Download the protocol document