March 17th, 2009

Simple Self-Assessment Activities


The last post explained how self-assessment is an important professional skill and how it’s a skill students should be learning, but aren’t in college. Here are some quick and easy ways to work with students on developing the skill.

On written work, most easily a paper—have the writer underline or otherwise mark the paragraph, sentence, passage that represents their best writing. Also have them underline the passage that isn’t up to snuff, that they tried to fix but still aren’t happy with, that doesn’t make the point they wanted to make. Leave the best passage alone, but offer suggestions for fixing the other and maybe some token points for a rewrite of just that section.

During an exam debrief—identify a question that lots of people missed. Have everybody find the date in their notes when that material was covered. Have students look at what they have in their notes that pertains to the question. Ask someone who got the answer correct to read their notes to the rest of the class. How does that compare with the notes of those who missed the question?

Distribute several days’ worth of notes taken by a student (real or hypothetical) who got an A in the course. Have students compare those notes with the ones they took on those days and in a couple of paragraphs note differences, emphasizing how they might want to take notes differently.

After a class discussion that’s gone pretty well, have each student answer these questions: 1) About how many times did you participate in this discussion? 2) What did you do when you participated? Answered a question? Asked a question? Made a comment? Responded to something another student said? 3) Was there a time during the discussion you had something to say but didn’t volunteer? What kept you from contributing? 4) How well did you listen to what your classmates were saying? Summarize briefly something you remember hearing another student contribute to the discussion. 5) Overall, how would you evaluate your contributions to this discussion?

After work on a group project, before receiving their grades, ask students to write a short paragraph that identifies what they contributed to the group’s progress and what they could have done that would have made the group even more successful.

—Maryellen Weimer