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Feedback From Themselves, For Themselves

Self-assessment

Research has shown that providing high-quality feedback to pupils is crucial to teaching effectively. The EEF’s Toolkit states that quality feedback can lead to an average of eight additional months of progress over the course of a year. At first glance, this appears to be panacea for pupil progress worries. Teachers though, are aware of the time constraints associated with giving pupils constructive feedback as their pupils work in class. Luckily, research shows that pupils are able to use self-assessment to effectively monitor their own learning. By doing so learning and achievement increased and pupils are more able to manage, or self-regulate, their own learning.

Pupil self-assessment is the process of pupils reflecting on the development and progress of piece of work and consider to what amount the work meets stated goals and criteria as they complete a piece of work. When pupils reflect on a piece of work and decide it needs editing, they are able to revise what they have done accordingly. Pupil self-assessment is a form of formative assessment that Heidi Andrade states, “…is done on work in progress in order to inform revision and improvement”.

Self-regulation or metacognitive strategies, research suggests, are very closely linked to achievement. Meta-cognitive strategies are central to effective self-assessment because it involves pupil understanding of a tasks success criteria and being able to evaluate one’s progress against it. Interestingly, the EEF write that, “some evidence suggests that disadvantaged pupils are less likely to use such strategies and are, therefore, most likely to benefit from the whole range of approaches to supporting metacognitive and self-regulatory skills…”

The Research

The EEF have done lots of work on meta-cognition and self-regulation. The research has indicated, “High impact for very low cost, based on extensive evidence.” Their guidance report, which has many suggestions on how to make it work, can be found here. Heidi Andrade, who work is reference later in this blog, has written on self-assessment in the University of York’s Better Evidence Based Education journal. Both sources are well worth investigating further.

Making it Work

In order to make self-assessment a tool which pupils can use effectively, Andrade writes that pupils need:

  • Awareness of the value of self-assessment;
  • Access to clear criteria on which to base the assessment;
  • A specific task or performance to assess;
  • Models of self-assessment;
  • Direct instruction in and assistance with self-assessment;
  • Practice;
  • Cues regarding when it appropriate to self-assess; and
  • Opportunities to revise and improve the task or performance.

According to Andrade, there are a number of ways to begin the process of self-assessment.

  • In the beginning it is important that expectations are established. A set of success criteria should be created by either the pupils or teacher or both working together. To do this pupils might look at a WAGOLL or WABOLL and discuss how the positives and negatives might inform the make-up of the success criteria.
  • Children begin to use self-assessment during a piece of work through the use of their success criteria. They check their work carefully and decide whether or not they have met the expectation of the success criteria.
  • Pupils then use their self-assessment to revise their work and articulate appropriate next steps that will allow them to improve the standard of their work next time.

The EEF state that, “most [learners] will not spontaneously develop all the strategies they need or would find useful and therefore require explicit instructions in key metacognitive strategies”. One way to teach these skills is to offer children prompt questions they can ask themselves before, during and after a task. The questions have different aims; planning questions asked before hope to elicit thoughts on previous experience, monitoring questions check progress during a task and evaluation questions posed after a task consider what feedback learners can take forward from an activity.

Example of questions:

Before: What have a learned from the examples we looked at earlier?

What strategies will I use to complete the task?

During: Am I doing well? (A success criteria could help to answer this question)

Am I finding this challenging? If so, why?

After: How did I do?

How could I complete the task more successfully next time?

Next Steps

Pupil self-assessment can be an excellent tool which enables pupils to make progress. Apart from accelerating progress, once students have been taught to use self-assessment effectively, it ensures that they become more self-regulated learners who are able to employ a range of metacognitive strategies. Educators should, therefore, ask themselves, ‘How can I encourage self-assessment so that pupils receive good feedback when they need it?’

References

Education Endowment Foundation. Feedback & monitoring pupil progress. Available: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/school-themes/feedback-monitoring-pupil-progress/. Last accessed 1.3.19.

Education Endowment Foundation. Metacognition and Self-Regulated Learning – Guidance Report.

Heidi Andrade. (2011). Promoting learning and achievement through self-assessment. Better Evidence Based Education. 3 (3), 12-13.

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