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Will Afternoon Starter ActivitiesRengage the Learning Environment?

Assessment Week Findings


-Assessment week results revealed a decline in work standards compared to their previous year.-Observed a lack of motivation and a missing "oomph" or driving force within the group to enhance the quality of their work.

Observation of Mid-Afternoon Slump:

-Noted decline in student engagement after the mid-afternoon break.-Students exhibit a noticeable "slump" in focus, with some already packing up before the session concludes.


Importance of Tuesday Afternoons:

- Tuesday afternoon level 3 students in their second year of study.-These students are crucially preparing for university applications or transitioning to the next phase of study or work.


Critical Year for Future Opportunities:

-Significance of this final year for students and its potential impact on future opportunities.-Potential lasting effects if students do not achieve their academic goals during this pivotal time.


The aim of my research is to investigate and implement effective approaches to transform the post-afternoon break period into a time of heightened engagement and productivity. (PVA3)

My rationale stems from recent observations of student engagement in a class of level 3 Graphic design students.

The Problem

This research aims to enhance teaching through improved lesson planning, emphasising learner experience and outcomes (PVA1), updating pedagogical knowledge (PKU9), and applying evidence-informed practices. The goal is to contribute to effective teaching methods, sharing findings with colleagues (PKU10) to enhance educational methodologies within professional circles.

Will Afternoon Starter Activities Rengage the Learning Environment?


The aim of my research is to explore the use of 5 minute starter tasks after afternoon break times and whether this motivates students and improves engagement for the rest of the afternoon.

Will Afternoon Starter Activities Rengage the Learning Environment?


I will produce starter activities to implement in afternoon lessons to assess the impact on the activation of a student's learning space. The starter tasks will be revised weekly following feedback collected from students week by week and reflect the current topics and projects they are working on. I will gather research through feedback from both students and their tutor and compare this feedback with weeks in which the starter task was not incorporated. Key aspects under consideration will include the level of student engagement in these tasks and whether students reported feeling intellectually stimulated or challenged by the activities.

Will Afternoon Starter Activities Rengage the Learning Environment?


Implementing a 5-minute starter task following the afternoon break will enhance the learning environment for learners by activating their engagement and reengaging them with the subsequent learning tasks

Starters that disrupt the learning objectives or aims for the day and do not add to learning of the session are considered ‘non gain’ (McCourt, 2019) With ‘non-gain starters’ neither students nor the teacher gain anything from them. ‘They are included with the sole purpose of keeping students busy as others arrive, settling the class, or beginning the lesson with something ‘fun’. (Robertson 2011)

Starter activities can enhance the learning experience for both students and teachers (Robertson 2011) ‘Learning gain starters’ serve as a dynamic educational strategy that goes beyond routine time-filling, contributing substantively to memory consolidation, self-awareness, and student motivation. ‘Learning gain starters’ are intentionally designed to bring value to the learning process emphasising a focused and purposeful approach to learning.

Points that critique
Points that support

Theme 1: Learning

Literature Review

‘Non- gain starters’ (McCourt, 2019) often have no link to the rest of the session. McCourt notes students are quick to see through starters and devalue them. My sample group may realise the starter activities are taking place and choose to take their time getting back from break, reasoning, "It's just the starter – I won't be missing much." If not engaged in the starter this could disrupt afternoon learning further, waste time. Along with this, activity and participation does not necessarily mean that learning or change is taking place (Barrow & Woods, 1993).

Students being able to easily engage with a starter leads to more positive learning throughout the lesson (Cowley, 2010) If engaged with activities that grab their attention, students might be less likely to be involved in poor behaviour or outside distractions carrying over from break as their attention and energies are focused on the task. A starter will bring them back into the learning space both physically and mentally.

Points that critique
Points that support

Theme 2: Engagement

Literature Review

Barrow and Woods (1993) highlight the importance of acknowledging diverse learning styles and needs, this equates to a necessity for varied instructional starters. In order to ensure an inclusive learning environment starters must address distinct needs, fostering an inclusive environment where every student feels empowered to contribute confidently. considering the interplay of learning preferences, cognitive abilities, and socio-emotional factors. The success of incorporating varied instructional starters, could indeed increase the planning workload for teachers. While these additional activities may be brief, the need to address diverse learner needs is paramount. Failing to carefully consider this in planning may result in disruptions and adversely affect students' confidence.

Starter activities in the classroom can be inherently inclusive in several ways, fostering a positive and engaging learning environment for all students. Teachers can create a more inclusive classroom where every student feels valued, engaged, and confident in their ability to learn. Gershon (2011) references starters as a combatting tool against the ‘I don’t know’ card played by students. All students are able to achieve success within a starter which can be assisted through use of open ended questions and ensuring nothing more than the material supplied are required to complete the task. Beginning a lesson with this sense of achievement having completed something set all students regardless of their previous assessment or attendance levels on an equal level.

Points that critique
Points that support

Theme 3: Inclusive Learning

Literature Review

In Conclusion

In conclusion, this literature review emphasises the crucial role of meticulous planning in integrating starter activities. Balancing inclusivity with practical constraints is vital to seamlessly incorporate starters without overwhelming educators. Ensuring clear purpose and measurable learning gains is key, making starters valuable and purposeful for both teachers and learners, not optional but essential for effective learning.

Case Study

- Conduct small-scale research in a familiar classroom setting.-Holistic approach for a comprehensive understanding and meaningful data collection.

-Risk of limited generalisation to broader contexts or populations.Mitigated by gathering in-depth analysis and contextual richness specific to my subject area.

Potential Disadvantage of Case Studies

Focus: Learning Enhancement

-Emphasis on enhancing learning over behavior

Flexibility and Specificity

-Use a case study to examine the after-break time engagement slump.-Compare and contrast the effectiveness of altering lesson plans in my subject area.

Value for Practice

-Provide insights for theories on activating learning environments.-Transferable knowledge to enhance my own teaching practice.

Research Design

How I will Implement Starter Activities

  • The students have a break at 2:30 returning at 3 for the last hour of their day.
  • When they arrive back from break I will set a 5 minute activity for them to take part in.
  • It will be separate from their set lesson work and though participation will be encouraged, but is not mandatory and will not affect their assessment grade.
  • After the 5 minutes the students will go back to their current project set within the lesson.
  • The starter task will be relevant to their study but it will be over after the 5 minutes and not continue further into the final hour.
  • I will then ask the students to complete my simple form each week.


Participants convey their feelings through a simplified, user-friendly chart.Acknowledging the intricacy of student engagement linked to personal feelings.Recognising the impracticality of quantitative measurement in capturing nuanced emotions.Dissolving the rigidity associated with traditional methods.Encouraging genuine and authentic expressions from participants.Mitigating bias through a visual depiction of feelings.Emphasising the absence of a predefined 'right answer' in this subjective assessment.

Anything you would like to add about motivation in this lesson or additional factors that affected your learning for example, feeling unwell today:

  • Rate your overall mood and energy today
  • I am engaged in my work
  • I feel motivated to get the set work complete
  • I am able to concentrate until the end of the session
  • I am happy with the amount of work I have achieved today

Place yourself on this scale by marking how you feel about the following statements

Recognise the sensitivity of discussing levels of motivation and pledged to adhere to Suffolk New College’s Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy (2019).

Committed to handling data in accordance with GDPR law (Data Protection Act, 2018).



Implement a system where all participants will remain anonymous through the use of unique identifiers.

Clearly communicate to participants that their involvement is optional, and they have the right to withdraw at any stage.

Ensure explicit consent will be obtained from each student participating in the research.

BERA (2018) framework to establish the ethical justification for the research.






I will be using a Gantt chart to enure my project stays on track and each stage is completed fully and on time to deadlines


Barrow, R. & Woods, R. (1993) An introduction to philosophy of education, 3rd ed. (London, Routledge).BERA (2018). Ethical Guidelines for Educational Research. 4th edition. Available at: https://www.bera.ac.uk/publication/ethical-guidelines-for-educational-research-2018-online (Accessed: 27 November 2023).Cowley, S. (2010) Getting the Buggers to Behave. 4th edn. London: Continuum. Data Protection Act (2023). The Data Protection (Fundamental Rights and Freedoms) (Amendment) Regulations 2023.Available at:https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/media/64ff2c3957e884000de1284d/the-data-protection-fundamental-rights-and-freedoms-amendment-regulations-2023-em.pdf (Accessed: 29 November 2023).Gershon, M. (2011) Our expert's guide to the perfect starter Available at:https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2011/oct/17/guide-perfect-starter-teaching (Accessed: 29 November 2023).McCourt, M. (2019) Teaching for Mastery. Woodbridge: John Catt Educational.Professional Standards for Teachers and Trainers (2022) Available at: https://www.et-foundation.co.uk/professional-standards/teachers/ (Accessed: 25 October 2023) Robertson, B. (2021) The Teaching Delusion 3: Power Up Your Pedagogy. Woodbridge: John Catt Educational Ltd.Suffolk New College. Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy. (2023). Available at: https://www.suffolk.ac.uk/app/uploads/2023/10/Safeguarding-Child-Protection-Policy-October-2023.pdf (Accessed: 27 November 2023).The Importance of ‘Learning Gain’ Starters (2022) Available at:https://theteachingdelusion.com/2022/03/26/the-importance-of-learning-gain-starters/(Accessed: 29 November 2023).


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