Lately, I’ve been thinking about the connection between formative assessment and self-regulated learning. This idea of self-regulated learners has been around for a long time with implicit, more than explicit, connections being called out between these two ideas.
Students make decisions all the time about themselves and their peers as learners. They think thoughts like these:
- I’m going to do the minimum
- I’m going to figure this out
- This is too hard for me
They ask questions like these:
- What am I supposed to do?
- Have I done anything like this before?
- Was I any good at it?
- What do I know about this stuff?
- How interesting is this going to be?
- Is it worth the effort?
We need to look at how we can activate them; after all, at the heart of a classroom contract that promotes thinking and learning is the understanding that ultimately, in any classroom, students are the ones who have to do the learning. No one can hand it to them or force it on them.
These ideas really zero in on a couple of key formative assessment practices: activating learners and providing feedback.
- Use the learning targets and success criteria to set goals and teach students to monitor the progress of their learning:
- Teach them how to peer and self-assess, so they can provide themselves and their peers with feedback in ways we adults can’t.
- Teach them to use their evidence–their data–to recognize that they are the primary users of assessment data in the classroom and they make all kinds of decisions.
- Use progress monitoring to identify where the student is in their learning and what next steps are needed to get them to where they need to be:
- Provide feedback both from other students and teachers to move student learning forward:
- Students get caught up in the grades they receive and often don’t focus on the comments or suggestions that a teacher makes. Consider some techniques that can bring comments and feedback to life.
- Adjust teaching strategies based on the cognitive and metacognitive signals that you get from the first three areas.
With students assuming responsibility for a greater part of their own learning, as well as the learning of their peers, successful formative assessment can really transform learning outcomes. Formative assessment and self-regulated learning can go hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly, if done correctly.