A Student’s Take on Self Assessment

If you've been following the Radical at all, you know that Dean Shareski has gotten me thinking about the role that self-assessment should play in my classroom. 

After having my students work through a few opportunities to assess their own learning, I asked them to assess self-assessment as an instructional practice. 

Specifically, I told them I was interested in (1). their perspective on the fact that self-assessments aren't graded and (2). their perspective on having the chance to reflect on their own learning.

One of my favorite responses came from Anna Beth, who wrote:

Self assessment really helped me to find what my written work was missing.  The questions you asked got me to realize that my work was not as good as I thought it was. 

After looking at my work carefully, I came to the conclusion that my thoughts were not explained clearly enough for someone else to be interested in my work.

I find that I do better on most assignments that aren't graded versus knowing that they will be graded.  I think that this is because the pressure of a grade is taken away.  Therefore, I am assured that if I don't do well, my grade won't be effected. 

When that pressure is taken away, I focus better on what I'm doing and I tend to do better.  This is where my Ravenclaw side is shown because I want to do well, but I can be so focused on wanting to do well that I can get distracted from actually learning.

That's an interesting take, isn't it?  I especially liked the last line:  I can be so focused on wanting to do well that I can get distracted from actually learning.

I wonder if that holds true for other students too?  Have we gotten to a point in our high stakes world that grades have replaced learning completely?

Is that something we can fix or is grading too far gone to actually fix?


3 thoughts on “A Student’s Take on Self Assessment

  1. Homework Help

    The answer given by that student may not be be universally applicable to all students. Perhaps Anna Beth is internally motivated hence she would give her best to the assignment whether there is a grade associated with it or not. And actually what she said would hold true, learning could be at risk. Where as for someone who’s externally motivated, no grades associated with it would mean, that he doesn’t get anything extra for his work. Which would essentially deter them from giving it their best effort.

  2. David Yastremski

    I’ve been asking students (9th through 12th grade) to self-assess for a couple of years; however, I do let them assign a ‘grade’ that I will enter into the gradebook.
    1. I set up clear benchmarks; typically I start with a simple 3 or 4 point scale and a clearly developed rubric. I then review what each item should look like. As the year goes on, I move to a 10-point scale on some larger assignments
    2. There must be a narrative portion as well where the student justifies why he/she is assigning a particular score. This section clearly indicates how seriously the student is taking the art of self-assessment.
    3. If a score seems inflated or not clearly justified, or a student is simply unsure and asks for confirmation, I’ll read, evaluate, and we will conference about the assignment, along with the benchmarks and rubric. I’ve experienced very few students inflating the grade; sometimes, they are more harsh on their assessments than I would be.
    4. On larger assessments, I will also allow them self-assessment points during the process of drafting, revising, etc. This allows them an opportunity to fix the errors; however, they still attach a ‘grade’ to their draft (it weighs very little).
    I started allowing students to self-assess participation grades on group projects, literature circles, and overall quarterly grades (they get 10% for participation, in and out of the classroom). Since then, I’ve expanded to some formative pieces and smaller summative assignments. Adding the metacognitive aspect of justifying the point-total has provided much insight regarding the student’s development, frustrations, time management, and other affective or non-quantifiable experiences with the assignment.
    I will also note that some of my colleagues in the younger grades have experimented with the process and have ‘enjoyed’ similar successes.

  3. Tom Panarese

    I think the answer is yes and no because it depends on the self-motivation of the student. I teach high school sophomores who are often the opposite. I take away the grade and they don’t write because they don’t see the purpose in doing any work that is not graded.
    This is behavior that has become ingrained in them, mind you … what they come to my classroom with at the beginning of the year. “Breaking their programming” so to speak is a very hard job and one that I’m not always successful at.

Comments are closed.