For students to become actively engaged with the learning process they need guidelines and opportunities to learn and engage in self-assessment. A program like Keeping Learning on Track can provide teachers with practical instructional strategies and techniques to design opportunities for students to think reflectively about their own learning, as well as to assess their own work and learning. By engaging in the process of thinking about and assessing their own work, they act on the evidence of their own learning and take responsibility for it.
Two pieces of research on the self-regulation of learning, including self-assessment and self-monitoring, indicate that students who engage in these activities are more likely to believe in their ability to learn, develop internal attributions, a feeling of empowerment and a sense of autonomy. These behaviors not only can help students take responsibility for their own learning, but can lead directly to improved student performance.
In 1996, Fernandes and Fontana – two highly-respected education researchers out of Portugal – established a training program of self-assessment strategies with 25 primary school teachers. Over a period of eight months, the teachers implemented these strategies within their classrooms. Students in these classrooms were compared to students in the classrooms of 20 control teachers. The results showed that students who are provided with regular opportunities and encouragement to engage in self-assessment are more likely to attribute their learning to internal beliefs (i.e. students believe they can have an impact on their own learning). These students were less likely to attribute success to luck or other unknown variables and were more likely to understand the real causes of their academic success, such as learning, effort and studying. (Changes in the control beliefs in Portuguese primary school pupils as a consequence of the employment of self-assessment strategies. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 66, 301–313)
In 2004, Susan Brookhart, Senior Research Associate in the Center for Advancing the Study of Teaching and Learning at Duquesne University, along with some of her research colleagues, examined the impact of student self-monitoring on 41 students in two classrooms. Students were provided with structures and tools (logs, graphs, reflection sheets, etc.) to reflect each week on the success of their study and problem-solving strategies. An analysis of student reflection sheets showed that when teachers involved their students in monitoring their own progress, students were more autonomous and were able to accurately predict their performance on timed tests. Overall, the students in this study enjoyed participating in self-assessment and seeing their progress. Student comments on their reflection sheets also acknowledged the value of their own studying. (Minute Math: An action research study of student self-assessment. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 57, 213–227.)
Have you seen examples of self-assessment at work in your school? Drop a comment below. We’d love to hear from you about results you’ve seen.