16 January, 2010


When I train teachers how to use self-assessment with their students, I show them how it can be applied in a variety of ways for several purposes. I teach them to use it as a tool to help students learn to study and to learn in general by focusing the questions on processes rather than results. In this way, the self-assessment exercise fulfills its most obvious goal by giving students an opportunity to reflect on their actions and take responsibility for them.  If designed correctly, it also teaches students what is expected of them and it teaches good study and learning habits.

I have used this technique in my classes over the years by asking questions such as:

What did you do with the feedback your teacher gave you for Learning Log 1?
  1. I read it carefully and have thought about how to use it to write further Learning Logs
  2. I looked at it quickly
  3. The teacher gave me feedback?

How useful have the objectives set for this course been for you?
  1. I have practically made them my own personal objectives for this module
  2. I read them and they seem logical
  3. This course has objectives?

I know that I am a better teacher than before because:
  1. I have been constantly reflecting on the learning going on in my classes and have tried new ways of improving it
  2. My supervisor(s) and fellow teacher(s) have commented on how I have improved
  3. I feel that I am doing a better job than before
  4. I have received favorable feedback and grades from the TEFL teacher(s)
  5. I am close to getting a TEFL certificate!

This usually evokes positive reactions from students, and I have always imagined that by giving them tips regarding expected behaviors, it helps them learn better too.

So, for the last course I taught, I decided that it was time to get some evidence so I wouldn't have to imagine any longer that my self-assessment tool had the desired effect.

I had students do a self-assessment exercise at the mid-point of a 7-week module and again on the last day of the module. After giving it the first time, I posted it on the digital platform for students to see and use as a reference.  Students had to rate their own individual performance in each category on a scale of 0 (not fulfilled at all) to 4 (fulfilled completely) on such questions as:

  • I have looked over some of the sites posted in the UCG Diigo group _____
  • I have taken initiative to contribute to group tasks _____
  • I have been in contact with the teacher when necessary _____
  • I have fulfilled the objectives of the 3 weeks of study _____

Then students were asked to rate their group performance using the same scale on such questions as:

  • our group has a wiki that has been worked on and built up little by little _____
  • our group is learning to collaborate _____
  • our group has been in constant contact to fulfill assignments _____
  • our group has a functioning set of rules _____
  • our group's vision of 21st Century education is quite developed and reflects a conscientious effort to understand the concepts presented in the course _____

Adding the scores from the individual and group categories gives a good idea of self-perception of effort made to fulfill the goals of the class.

The results demonstrate progress by the end of the course, progress that was reflected in a perceived increase in quality of student work, both individually and in groups.



Individual Change
Group Change
Average Total Change


Of course, this does not provide evidence that the improvement in both individual and group performance by the end of the course can be attributed to the self-assessment exercise. It could very well be due to looming deadlines and good old fashioned desire to pass the course, which motivates increased action as the end of the module nears.

I would like to think that providing students with an opportunity to reflect on effort and how it is directed at the mid-point of the module, and posting the document during the rest of the module contributed at least partially to the average total change above. Knowing this with more precision would allow me to improve the design of my self-assessment exercises to more effectively contribute to better student performance, both in process and product.


Irma Illonka said...

yes, the willingness to pass the course was there (talking about me and your module) and will always be. But, having a tool to register the student (my) progress is/was a way to guide, to facilitate and to motivate to reflect on the learning process, the efforts that students make, and the level of overcoming difficulties.
Being able to say "yes, I can do this now" was not a very emotional supportive component of that tool but also an opportunity to realice what I was able to do and "see" my progress and learning. Of course, also to see what I still needed to work on.

Irma Illonka said...

I am glad you included this segment of your blog. It allows me to re-read the information but with different eyes, and also notice my typing mistakes.
I still think that including a tool to help the student SEE the progress he/she is doing fulfills different purposes: know the results before is the final quiz/test, gives the opportunity to reflect on their learning process, opportunity to think about their decisions/actions, and take responsibility in their own practice.
Re-reading your post I am thinking more on the "variety of ways for several purposes" to apply/help/develope self assessment.
The bitácora can be the place in which each student with a direct contact with the facilitator could reflect in their ideas that motivates their decisions in planning an activity or a class. The bitacora will be the place to come and talk about the results and rethink about the decisions that he/she took as a teacher and the impact of them in their students.
With my CLT course and the goal of providing general framework for future courses and the use of the same reading over and over again, the bitacora can become the place to evoke reactions from students and redirect their teaching practice.
I know that besides the individual progress and changes that the bitacora might show, I also need to include another tool that will help them see in a more objective way their learning, and be aware of the things they still need to work on in the future.

-Lorena- said...

I have been used to see assessment as a tool or procedure to applied at the end of something. But here is shows clearlt that it should be part of the process so students can see their progress in their learning.