Proof that Student Self-Assessment Moves Learning Forward

Proof that Student Self-Assessment Moves Learning ForwardPauline Zdonek wrote a compelling piece at SmartBlog on Education titled – Helping Students Self Assess – that highlights and supports one of the key tenants of formative assessment. In it she shared her method of getting students to assess their quiz results, by having them complete a chart (quiz reflection form) for each problem they got wrong. The students must rewrite the problem from the quiz (examine the problem), they must correctly solve the problem (learn to perform the skill correctly), and they have to state what they did wrong (analyze the error).

I love this! Pauline’s method is similar to what my colleague Beth Hankle has used. [photo] Not only is it smart, it’s backed by educational experts and research. As D.R. Sadler stated in his research paper titled, Formative Assessment and the Design of Instructional Systems, “Where anyone is trying to learn, feedback about their efforts has three elements: The desired goal, the evidence about their present position, and some understanding of a way to close the gap between the two.”

Research on the self-regulation of learning, including self-assessment and self-monitoring, indicates that students who engage in these activities are more likely to develop internal attributions, a feeling of empowerment, and a sense of autonomy. One study in particular by Fernandes and Fontana in 1996 (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) established a training program of self-assessment strategies with 25 primary school teachers. Over a period of eight months, these teachers implemented these strategies within their classrooms. Students in these classrooms were compared to students in the classrooms of 20 control teachers. Results indicated 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, that is, 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 identify the real causes of academic success.

In another study conducted in 2004, by Brookhart, Andolia, Zusa, and Furman (Minute Math: An action research study of student self-assessment. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 57, 213–227) examined the impact of student self-monitoring. 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 liked seeing their progress. Student comments on their reflection sheets also acknowledged the value of their own studying. [picture from KD]

I like when research helps promote smart educational tools like formative assessment, and Pauline’s research helps add to those coffers. If you’re an educator, what do you do to promote student self-assessment?


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