Student Involvement in Assessment
Student involvement in assessment presents a powerful opportunity for learning. Students can be involved in creating grading criteria, applying criteria to their own work, giving feedback to peers, and going over test results. Each of these assessment situations can generate further learning.
Creating Grading Criteria
If students know the qualities of good work, they can participate in writing the rubrics by which they will be graded. Of course this wouldn’t work with totally new content, but think of how much students actually do know about the qualities teachers look for in their schoolwork. Brainstorming the criteria for good work, by itself, is a good way to focus students on the achievement target they are being asked to hit. Taking the next step and organizing those criteria into rubrics you and the students will actually use to grade them makes a statement to students. It affirms that they do indeed know the criteria, that you know they know, and that you accept their definition.
Applying Criteria to Their Own and Peers’ Work
Whether or not the students have written the rubrics, they will benefit from practice applying them. It is one thing for a student to say “my description should have complete details” and another thing to recognize complete details when he or she sees them. Using a class period for students to review one another’s work and make suggestions would be a worthwhile learning experience and a worthwhile formative assessment.
Going Over Test Results
A teacher-made test may seem the ultimate in lack of student involvement in assessment, but it doesn’t have to be so. Many teachers already go over the answers when they pass back graded tests, and good students know a lot of valuable information may be gained from paying attention and noting where they made their mistakes. The problem is that often there is nothing “in it” for the students except their own satisfaction. If a test is reviewed after the grade has been recorded, especially if students will not be working with that material again in the near future, many students will simply see what they “got” for a score and bide their time during the review.
One strategy to increase the amount of productive student involvement in going over objective test results is to turn it into an additional assessment. After you grade tests, group the students heterogeneously according to their scores on the test, into groups of about three. This works especially well when most students did not do as well as they would have liked on the test.
Return individual graded tests to the students, then give each group of three a worksheet you have prepared. List each test item and its correct answer (a, b, c, d, or T/F, etc.). Make one column for the number of students in the group who got the item wrong. If that number is zero, they write it and move on to the next test item. If one or more of the group members got the item wrong, the group must write an explanation of why the correct answer is correct–which can be anything from citing a forgotten fact from a textbook to a sequence of logical reasoning, depending on the question. The grade for these explanations may be counted as an additional grade toward the report card grade. The real power of the exercise is that it says to the students that learning the content behind the items is the main point, and it gives them a second chance to do that. The fact that the content was “on the test,” especially if the student got it wrong the first time, by definition registers it as “important.”
© ______ 2009, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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