ARCHIVED—Improvement Through Self-Evaluation
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An alternative to conventional marking is to have students evaluate their own work.
Ron Blair makes extensive use of self-evaluation. He does not conceive of it as a way to get a mark to assign to students; that's the teacher's job. Rather, he uses self-evaluation to teach students to review their own work and measure their progress.
To begin, students need a rubric so they can see what is required. Blair uses standard course rubrics for the most part, although he may alter them in minor ways to make it easier for students to understand or to fit the requirements better.
He shows students how to use the rubric and also explains that he may not award them the mark they assign themselves. Typically, he says, students mark themselves too hard.
This is not a result of a harsh attitude but of students not having learned to see the good qualities in their own work. This highlights an interesting shortcoming of conventional evaluation, says Blair. Most evaluations emphasize the negative—this is, what you got wrong. That is valuable, but improvement isn't just a matter of stopping making mistakes; it is also about recognizing what's right and doing more of it.
When possible, Blair breaks assignments down into stages and evaluates each one. For example, students in Newfoundland and Labrador are required to do a presentation for a heritage fair each year. Blair has one rubric for the preparation of the presentation and another for the delivery. This helps build confidence, he says, because students are not left waiting for a final evaluation on which everything depends. "Because they have evaluated the preparation, they already know they have something good or, if they don't, they know how to fix it."
Blair makes a point of evaluating in as many ways as possible. Some students benefit from being able to show their knowledge in a creative presentation and some students prefer an old-fashioned exam.
Self-evaluation can even be used with regards to behaviour. Again, maintaining order is the teacher's responsibility, Blair says, but there are also techniques to introduce self-management into the classroom. In any class there are serious moments and light moments. Seeing the contrast between the two helps students to understand the difference. If they can learn to relax during a light moment and get serious in the more serious moments, that will prepare them well for understanding and controlling their emotions.