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8:4 Student self-assessment

Closely related to goal-setting is self-assessment. Students need to self-assess in order to monitor how their learning is progressing. Student self-assessment in the portfolio process creates critical, active thinkers who can take responsibility for their own learning. Students learn that their progress and grade do not depend on the teacher but on themselves. Furthermore, student self-evaluations are usually accurate. Research conducted at the NCLRC indicates that students often assess their progress towards course goals in the same way that the teacher evaluates them. Regularly used, self-assessment can help students track areas of strengths and weaknesses and address problems before final grades are issued. Self-assessment also allows teachers to see how students view their progress, leading to instruction that is individualized to specific student needs.

Student self-assessment in the portfolio process creates critical, active thinkers who can take responsibility for their own learning.

Student self-assessment can be used to measure progress towards objectives related to specific language skills. For example, if a teacher wants students to assess themselves as to how well they read in the target language, she uses a reading rubric. These specific rubrics are useful whether the portfolio contents focus on one mode of communication or several language skills. Students can periodically evaluate their abilities in each area to see how they progress over the school year. Students can also assess themselves by skill area in accordance with a specific class activity and the assessment can accompany other artifacts in the portfolio. There are many different types of language rubrics depending on the tasks, students' language level, and class expectations.

Sample corresponding forms for student self-assessment and teacher-student assessment are provided (See Goal-Setting and Self-Assessment and Teacher's Individual Student Assessment Form). When using these forms, the objectives you set must be related to the curriculum and can be presented as progress indicators to demonstrate what students can actually do as a result of an activity. You can work with students to establish objectives at the beginning of a unit; in this way the assessment process is tied directly to goal setting.

You may wish to let students set a few personal goals in addition to those you establish for the class. To emphasize a sense of progress, students can evaluate their abilities before starting and after completing the unit by using the following rubric to mark whether (1) I can do the task very easily, (2) I can do the task, (3) I can do the task with some difficulty, or (4) I can't do it yet. If a student marks that she cannot yet do a task, she can change the mark at a later date by writing in a new mark with date of change. Teachers use a similar rubric to evaluate students' progress (See Teacher's Individual Student Assessment Form): 1) exceeds objective, 2) meets objective, 3) needs improvement, 4) does not meet objective. The forms can be filled in for each unit of study or more frequently, for example, on a weekly basis. They can be entered in the portfolio as artifacts and attestations showing progress toward portfolio objectives. When portfolio assessment is used in conjunction with traditional testing, some teachers like to complete the forms before such tests so that students can identify areas that need additional work.

A sampling of assessment rubrics are included for various language tasks as well as sample rubrics for evaluating class participation and cooperative group work. The rating scales and objectives will need to be adapted to the language level and curriculum content of your classes. When creating or adapting rubrics for a class, keep in mind that the objectives need to match what you are teaching. There is no right or wrong way to develop a rating scale as long as it is responsive to the class content. For instance, the sample forms show that rating scales can consist of numbers (1-3, 1-5) or descriptive words (rarely, usually, always; yes, no). In order for students to successfully use the rubrics, they need to understand the objectives and rating scales. One of the ways this can be done is by involving students in the creation of the rubric.

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