Checking for understanding

Teachers check for understanding before moving between modelled, guided and independent practice.

What is checking for understanding?

Teachers regularly check student understanding using a variety of strategies including effective questioning. Teachers analyse the information they collect to make evidence-based instructional decisions. This includes when to move between modelled, guided and independent practice.

Checking understanding requires teachers to collect the responses of all students (Wiliam 2014).

What could it look like in the classroom?

What it isn’t

  • Asking for volunteer responses from a limited number of students
  • Expecting students will ask a question if they don’t understand
  • Used only at the end of a lesson or unit of learning
  • Questions like, ‘Does everyone understand?’ and ‘Does anyone need any help?’

Further reading

Wiliam D (2014) ‘The right questions, the right way’, Education Leadership, 71(6).

Wiliam D (2015) ‘Hinge Questions’ [video], North West Evaluation Association, Vimeo, accessed 18 April 2024.

Sherrington T (2022) 'Kitchen Pedagogy: Five Ways to Check for Understanding’ [video], Tom Sherrington, YouTube, accessed 16 April 2024.


  • Teaching and learning


  • Explicit teaching

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
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