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Beyond point chasing: self assessment

October 7, 2010
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SBG is awesome, but in my experience, in the hands of a stressed out, “I just need to get this done so I can get my A so I can stay on the stress treadmill for college” student, the least reflective student can quickly replace “what do I need to do to get an ‘A'” with “what do I need to do to get a 3?” essentially trading one carrot for another and missing out on the entire point of the emphasis on learning. You can find a very powerful essay about this topic over at Gas Station With Pumps(a great blog): Just Scoring Points.

One way I’m trying to prevent this from happening this year, is by giving my students the chance to really reflect on their own understanding. It’s part of our class mantra of “trying to let a grade be the start of a conversation, rather than the end.” And since grades still are the coin of the realm in my students’ minds, I decided to let them have a role in determining their own grade

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I broke this self assessment process down into a few parts:

  1. Completing a grade inventory: above, which lists every grade that students have gotten on the individual concepts. Even though only the last grade counts, I think there is benefit for students to see how they progressed.
  2. Provide additional evidence of understanding. If a student feels he/she understands a concept better than he/she has demonstrated, then he/she can reassess.
  3. Completing a detailed self assessment on Webassign. The goal of this assignment is to get students to deeply reflect about their own contributions to class, their written work, their mindset, and then to think of specific ways they can improve.
  4. Decide upon quarter gradeNext week, I’m going to ask the kids to give themselves a numeric grade, based on their concept scores and my general guidelines for determining grades
  5. Schedule and complete a 5 minute conference with meThanks to gdocs, scheduling these should be easy. I’ve never done this before, but I think it will be great to meet face to face with every kid and discuss his or her performance his/her self assessment and grade.

Of course, this begs a question—why should I and kids go through all this hassle, when another class will simply average the 3 tests and 4 quizzes and give kids a number. As I said before, my kids are point chasers, and it takes a lot to get them to stop and think what this whole process is about. But I think it is working, and when we discussed this as a class, I think the kids appreciated being brought into the grade determining process (they don’t see that they are central to the process in every class), and a few even seemed to think that this would be fun.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 7, 2010 6:49 pm

    I did student conferences like this last year, and will do it again this year. Kids said they like being able to talk about their grades with me. Even if they realize that effort doesn’t count, they wanted me to know that they do work and try hard. (I think some kids think that teachers only like kids who get good grades.)

    My conferences were not as detailed as your WebAssign questions, however. I might incorporate a few of those this year. Thanks for sharing!

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