I’m currently reading Using Self-assessment to Improve Student Learning by Harris and Brown. I’m most interested in adapting these ideas, techniques, practices to online spaces – especially online only courses. How can we support student understanding of writing and learning to write by empowering learners through self-assessments? Where are the moments to include these ideas?
A bit of a tangential side note, this book references research on student ego and negative student perception quite a bit. This is a huge concern with self-assessment. As a writing instructor, I hear all the time from students “I hate writing” and “i’m a terrible writer” and the worst “I won’t ever need writing”. These negative student perceptions are often accompanied by student ego issues – students unwilling to listen, pay attention, do the work, believe me. So while I love these ideas, I’m a realist in this situation and understand self-assessment won’t work for everyone (I’m also playing around with growth mindset in gamified learning to see if I can reach more students).
I’m only halfway done with the book, but what struck me, and inspired this post, was the discussion of rubrics. I understand why teachers and professors love rubrics, but I hate rubrics. Do not like them. I’ve moved to a 1 point rubric – 1) Where you did well, 2) where you can improve. All my comments then center around this criteria and relate directly to key concepts from the course.
So, this book discusses the usefulness of rubrics – with the caveat that rubrics are co-constructed by teachers/instructors AND learners. I’ve tried this – I’ve asked students to help me fill out the key concepts based on my rubric and they wanted to write and not pay attention to the assignment they were completing (and then questioned grades). So I really like the short discussion on co-creating rubrics , then providing time and space for self-assessment of that criteria, then evaluating that self-assessment, then helping students develop strategies to improve their writing (or practice depending on content area). In this way, the criteria not only comes out of teacher-centered (which has been part of my issue with rubrics) by being co-constructed, students are also taught to develop their own understanding of the assignment, their own understanding of the assignment grading criteria – they are provided space to self-assess and develop techniques to self-evaluate (transfer!!!!!).
The idea that rubrics are more integrated into a cycle of drafting makes so much more sense to me than as grading criteria. How can I re-introduce rubrics as self-assessment criteria to support student learning of self-assessment strategies to improve and understand how to improve their writing? The rhetorical applications of this are endless……Plus, this idea holds value for writers outside academia. The likelihood that students will write a traditional academic research essay after graduation from their bachelor’s is minimal. However, students will write. Understanding how to contextualize their writing, and self-assess that writing within the context properly (not as I worked really hard on this email asking my boss for a raise – but as here is and email with the evidence I deserve a raise).
I’m worried calling this a rubric will still be problematic – it’s essentially breaking down assignment sheets and asking students to respond with their level of understanding of how criteria for grading will align with assignment sheets, and their strategies for drafting and revising based on that understanding. is that really a ‘rubric’ – but it should be….so do I need to call this cycle something different, without ‘rubric’ for students to reconsider OR do I need to help students shift their understanding of rubrics and their function within classrooms (as context builders and self-assessment tools) for the benefit of learning transfer?
I’m about to begin chapter 4 (of 5) and I highly recommend this book for those considering ways (and ALL the complexities) of supporting active self-assessment in their classrooms.