I had been interested in peer-assessment for a while before I went to ACM’s Learning at Scale conference in March 2014. During a session about peer-grading in MOOCs, the topic of self-grading was brought up. Like many people at the conference, I had thought of self-assessment as a metacognitive tool and not a method to assess course performance. Someone suggested the Sadler and Good (2006) paper referenced below, and if you’re at all interested in peer- or self-assessment, I would highly recommend it.
Sadler and Good (2006) tell us that self-assessment encourages students to realistically evaluate their work by identifying their weaknesses and strengths. Ideally, this is the type of metacognition that students would engage in on their own, but realistically, only the highest-performing students employ metacognitive strategies without prompting by and/or assistance from the instructor. Regardless of how self-assessment impacts the grade on an assignment, I think it offers the following benefits to students (in addition to benefits discussed in the paper):
- After identifying weaknesses in their own work, perhaps students will be more receptive to constructive criticism from peers or instructors (especially if the external feedback largely coincides with the internal feedback).
- It can build self-evaluation skills. When students assess themselves and receive feedback from other sources, they can compare criticisms and learn from the disparities. Maybe they were blind to a certain weakness, or maybe they thought something was bad when it wasn’t.
- In their self-assessment, students identify what they think they did well, ensuring that they receive meaningful positive feedback. Especially as a young professor, I think I’ll have a hard time determining what is good for a student’s level (e.g., good writing for a second-year student). These self-assessment will help me gauge what students think they are doing well or have improved upon.
I want to include a self-assessment component on most of my major assignments. I also want to help students self-assess their progress on the course goals throughout the course. Because one can’t measure learning without first measuring prior knowledge, I’ll use a pre-course, mid-course, and post-course survey to ask students to assess their progress on course goals. This will provide valuable feedback to me about the success of the course and to the students about what they’ve learned. These surveys will be especially important for goals that depend heavily on the prior skills of the student (e.g., improve technical writing). I might also ask students at the end of the semester to re-evaluate assignments that they turned in earlier in the semester to help them appreciate how much they have learned.
For more on assessment — Walvoord, B. E., & Anderson, V. J. (1998). Making Assignments Worth Grading. In Effective Grading. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. pp. 17-42.
Sadler, P. M., & Good, E. (2006). The impact of self- and peer-grading on student learning. Educational Assessment, 11(1), 1-31.
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