This is self-explanatory: it is about getting students to develop the skills and judgement to assess themselves. Clearly it applies mainly to formative assessment, but it is none the less important for that. Students who are capable of assessing themselves are already half-way to being reflective practitioners (only half-way because the assessments may not be fully valid). It is part of their development that they should no longer be entirely reliant on their teachers to assess them.
- More often than you think. Teachers tend to believe that given the chance of self-assessment, students will always mark themselves more highly than their teachers would. If the self-assessment is a short-cut to passing a module or not (summative), this might be the case, but their judgements—even in the case of “immature” adolescents—often prove to be remarkably accurate or even conservative.
- First assessments in any given module, when the students do not really have a clue about the criteria and how they work in practice. Having said that, why not spend some time making them transparent to the students? There is the possibility of fostering surface learning, of course, if it is just a matter of helping them to play the assessment game, but if you can demonstrate that the assessments are valid, this is likely to be less of a problem.
- When there is some other agenda which might distort the assessment: group rivalries, for example, when the assessment is made public.
- Clearly, this approach is complementary to teacher assessment. It is not reasonable to abrogate all responsibility for assessment—and some students even resent being asked to take any part in assessment at all. They see it as the teacher's job: if they can't be persuaded otherwise, this is symptomatic of a problematic approach to the whole learning enterprise.
- Don't expect students to assess themselves on a blank sheet:
they need a format in which to do it. The framework below shows one approach. It is far
from perfect, and it was devised specifically for an outcomes-based programme, and used in
conjunction with a learning contract (hence the reference to an earlier question), but
- the first part helps students to realise that they are doing this assessment as an aid to their learning, rather than simply to jump through artificial hoops set for them by the teachers, and
- the second part helps them to focus on the assessment criteria—and if they can find their own faults as they are drafting their submission and correct them, so much the better.
|Complete this when you have finished the work: but consult the questions as you go along as an aid to revising and polishing your submission|
|1||Things which only you (the student) can assess|
|1.1||On reflection, what do I now know or understand that I didn’t before I started this piece of work?|
|1.2||Has this work met my original learning needs? (Check with answer to Q.1)|
|1.3||Does it have any implications for the further development of my practice?|
|2||Things parallel to those which tutors will be assessing:|
|2.1||Have I adequately covered the content?|
|2.2||Does it meet the criteria for the level at which I am submitting it?|
|2.3||Does the work present a coherent argument?|
|2.4||Have I addressed all the outcomes? And is it easy for the marker to locate them?|
|2.5||What are the principal strengths of this piece of work?|
|2.6||What are its principal weaknesses and the things I need to concentrate on further?|
|2.7||Does the work do justice to my capabilities? If not, why not?|