Monday, June 8, 2015

Powerful Learning through Self Assessment

Reflection by montykvirge-d4rblo7.jpg
Each term I include self assessment as an activity. Over time I have honed the questions I ask on the self assessment, and have found this activity to be a powerful tool that serves 3 key roles in my instruction.

As a teaching tool

Before I started the self assessment activity, I was frustrated by students who did not seem to read course objectives and rubrics or use them to guide their work. The self assessment I assign gives students a reason to engage with these course resources. Of course, as a firm believer in active learning, this should have occurred to me sooner. Once the students have a need for the objectives and rubrics, a reason to engage with them, their contents gained meaning.

As with other learning activities, I give students feedback on their self assessments. I use this feedback to acknowledge their progress, direct their efforts and give additional resources.

As a learning tool

Self assessment can be a metacognitive activity that requires students to reflect. If I structure the self assessment well, students consider how they are thinking about the course content. By giving students guided practice reflecting, I hope that I am giving them a tool that they can use throughout the course and beyond.

As an assessment tool

The self assessment confirms, expands upon and challenges my other assessment data. Most students end up telling me (mostly) what I expect to hear. This confirms my own assessment of students' strengths, weaknesses, and areas where I can improve my instruction. Students own words can provide me a more expansive or richer understanding of what students a-has or concerns are. I sometimes get information that reveals a student's greater or lessor understanding than I have previously given them credit. When a student presents a very different view of their progress than I have seen, a dialog can occur. I give the student an opportunity to demonstrate their learning and I have a chance to clarify expectations before it is too late.


I have tried the self assessment activity at different times in the term. It seems to be most useful after the first quarter and before the halfway point in the class. This allows
1) enough work has been done to assess.
2) enough time is left for the student to correct their course.
3) enough time is left for me to improve my interactions/instruction with an individual student or the whole group.

Take a look at a sample of the self assessment and rubrics I use. Please share your comments below, including any experiences with, or resources for, self assessment.

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