The norm is for the teacher to write a test, lead a few lessons, describe what will be on the test, and then administer the test, right? Students are not involved in making the assessment that will determine their grades. My form of summative assessment changed drastically this year, but it still does not address this issue. From what I hear from other teachers (you?), there’s a lot of room in all of our classrooms for more student involvement in assessment creation.
The tempered radical recently wrote about the benefits of explaining to students exactly what the point of each lesson is. It’s the kind of thing that seems so obvious when you say it like that, but this is relatively new research pointing at this stuff. In the November 2009 issue of Educational Leadership, “The Quest for Quality” references research from 2006 and 2009 to make the radical claim that “students learn best when they monitor and take responsibility for their own learning.” It goes on to say “This means that teachers need to write learning targets in terms that students will understand.” Sam Shah wrote about an experience talking directly with students about what it means to think and act like a mathematician that was so powerful for him that he considers it a genesis for himself as teacher. And meanwhile, I think I’m totally rad for talking with students about what they want out of my class.
It’s incredible that this stuff is new, right?
Some teachers are on to this already. I read about teachers developing rubrics with their classes, and others having students write questions from which the teacher will select his favorite three, etc. These teachers are already reaping the benefits:
- students feel (are) respected
- students feel (have) ownership of the assessment, which gives them a new responsibility
- students know a lot about the assessment before the lessons are all over, which seems, you know, better.
These benefits are obvious and supported by research.
So, if you use an assessment scheme based on written tests (like I do), what are the best ways to get some of these benefits? I want to experiment with having kids write and critique their own questions for sure, since this seems easy to implement and, at its worst, is a form of review. I already ask them to assess their progress towards their personal goals. What else can I do?
I am hereby declaring a new goal for the first month of next semester: I will find a way to include each student in the act and process of his or her own assessment, at least a little. I’m aiming high – I don’t mean that I will include “the class” in creating “the assessment.” Whew. There’s something to think about on the 14-hour drive home for Christmas!
Please leave comments if you have ideas. I just set this kind of big goal, and to be honest, guys, I don’t know how I’m going to meet it yet.