There are some pervasive myths in teaching that research does not confirm. One that teachers repeat very often is that self-assessment is a bad plan because student won’t assess themselves fairly and it doesn’t help the learning. The opposite is actually true. Students will self assess fairly unless there is a big incentive to do otherwise, and student who can self-assess well learn much more than students who cannot. As Saskatchewan Curricula have renewed, having student assess their own learning is embedded in outcomes through out all documents because it causes students to be more resilient, achieve more and be more engaged.
What is self-assessment?
Self-assessment is not the same as self-grading (although students can do that pretty accurately, too). It means that as a student, I can think about my learning. I know what I did well at, where I struggled and what I need to do next to improve. Strong self-assessors own their own learning.
How can I teach my students to own their own learning?
Teachers can teach students to own their own learning by encouraging students to be able to answer the following 5 questions:
- What am I learning?
- How am I doing?
- How do I know?
- What do I need to do next to improve?
- What help and supports should I get for myself?
In order to help students be able to reliably answer those questions, educators need to teach students 3 big traits: using metacognition regularly, having a growth mindset, and looking for opportunity to be intrinsically motivated. Here is a quick summary of each of those traits and a description of what a teacher can do to growth that trait in students.
What it looks like
How to teach it
|Metacognition||The student knows about his or her own thinking processes and can reflect of them in relation to a goal.||
|Intrinsic Motivation||The student wants to learn something of his or her own accord. Mistakes are a learning opportunity and powerful descriptive feedback is welcome.||
|Growth Mindset||The student sees his or her success as directly related to effort. The student tries new things for the opportunity to grow.||
Want more information?
- Learn more about Mindset
- Learn more about the other 4 strategies of formative assessment
- Watch Dan Pink’s TED talk on Intrinsic Motivation
- Read Hume’s Tuned Out for practical tips on Engaging the 21st Century Learner
- Read Wiliam’s Embedded Formative Assessment
- Read Davies, Gregory and Cameron on Self-Assessment and Goal Setting