Empower Students to Assess Themselves


Empower Students to Assess Themselves

Self-assessment is a crucial executive function skill that supports growth decision making, problem solving, and academic growth. As educators, equipping students with the ability to evaluate themselves is a surefire way to make their formative efforts more meaningful and promote accountability.

Students that can effectively assess themselves are more apt to direct their own learning in purposeful and impactful ways. Moreover, when students can evaluate and then clearly articulate the areas where they need help, it makes it easier for teachers and tutors to step in and help facilitate the appropriate support.

Provide the appropriate tools

Teaching students to self-assess doesn’t have to be an uphill climb. By selecting clear and appropriate tools, it can be easy to steer students towards patterns of thought that are honest, reflective, and ultimately productive.

  • Rubrics are amazing tools for providing clear expectations and charting specific pathways for improvement. Research shows that rubrics are very effective at enhancing student performance as long as the rubrics themselves are clear and well-designed.
  • Self-grading assessments remove the waiting between student performance and evaluation. While this used to mean providing answer keys and packets of exemplars, there are now web-based tools like Google Forms that not only provide real-time assessment results, but also offer extras like statistical analyses, the ability to embed multimedia resources, as well as the option to create branching assessments that behave more like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book than a traditional paper quiz.
  • Exit Slips are quick and easy ways to bake student reflection, self-assessment, and accountability into every lesson. These quick-write activities can also provide helpful, honest feedback to help educators evaluate the needs of each individual – even those that would not otherwise be likely to verbalize their opinions, successes, or struggles.
  • Goal setting is a practice naturally rooted in self-assessment. Carving out time in a class or tutoring session to help students create realistic goals (and a plan to reach them) provides a road map for growth and builds key executive function skills in the process.

When a teacher or tutor puts the right self-assessment scaffolds in place and models how they should be used, students have the ability to shift from being the passengers to becoming the drivers in their own learning journeys.

Establish the next step

While self-evaluation can be an impactful experience, it is nothing without the opportunity for meaningful follow-up. It is what students do in response to evaluating themselves that really counts.

There are a number of ways to offer students opportunities to act on their self-assessments that are similarly self-guided:

  • Record lessons for future student reference or to flip the learning experience. By making things like teacher demonstrations and lectures available as videos, students are able to refer to pertinent information when they need it most. This can be done DIY-style with a simple webcam or an old smartphone. Creating screencasts is a viable alternative to video for or the camera-shy or those without the means to reliably capture video.
  • Create “how-to” reference materials aligned to lesson objectives and larger unit goals. Post these resources online on a course website or on digital workspace like Google Classroom so that students can access them from anywhere with a reliable internet connection. Consider making analog options readily available for students who prefer hard copies or for those without reliable technology access.
  • Help boards provide a motivation for students to help each other. They give students a chance to showcase the skills they feel most qualified to assist others with and, at the same time, provide students with a venue to seek help in areas they feel they could use some peer support based upon their self-evaluation efforts.

By setting students up to both self-assess their academic growth and take the appropriate steps to improve, the power of the educational experience becomes substantially more intrinsic and less teacher-reliant. This paves the way for educators to serve as facilitators that can guide students with tailored support and instruction solicited by the students themselves.

In what ways have you been able to help students self-assess their own leaning? Share your insights and examples with our readers in the comments below and on social media!

About Sheldon S

Sheldon Soper is a ten year veteran of the teaching profession and currently serves as a junior high school teacher in southern New Jersey. His primary focus is building reading, writing, and research skills in his students. He holds two degrees from Rutgers University: a B.A. in History as well as a M.Ed. in Elementary Education. He holds teaching certifications in English Language Arts, Social Studies, and Elementary Education. Sheldon has also worked as a tutor for grades ranging from second through high school in a wide variety of subjects including reading, writing, calculus, chemistry, algebra, and test prep. In addition to his teaching career, Sheldon is also a content writer for a variety of education, technology, and parenting websites.

  1. ivanna f 03/01/2018, 5:26 pm Reply

    very good!!!