I am considering how to make my assessment of student learning more authentic, accurate and transparent. Last semester I tried having students grade themselves which was at first not very well received by students. Yet, in the end, students seemed to really get the power of their own self-assessment. The assignments I gave were given detailed feedback, but students had to decide on the grade using the overall criteria given in the syllabus. I am considering adding a layer to this process in an effort to increase the responsibility, mental engagement, and control for students. Ideally, the students would be setting their own criteria, except setting requirements about understanding first require one to understand (this paradox is a problem).
This semester I am planning to let students create or choose their own assignments. Maybe not all of the assignments but some of them. For example, in my methods class I might require students to turn in 1) a group lesson plan and 2) a videotaped lesson of themselves with a self-analysis and improvement plan (the lesson & videotape will be required so students understand that thinking about good teaching and doing good teaching are very different). The other 3 assignments would be self-created. Students might choose to create a website for their class, an additional lesson plan, a case study of another teacher, a series of blog posts, a paper, a video, etc.
I would provide feedback on all assignments and target my feedback for all assignments to specific standards that I will create to reflect the major outcomes of each course. Some of these outcomes/standards will be based on meeting state teaching standards and others on specific course content. I will not provide a grade. I will create expectations for each standard that articulate levels of understanding that students will use as a guide for their own self-assessment (along with my extensive comments/feedback).
These main 5 assignments would not be the only assignments I give. Other assignments might include weekly blogposts, readings, comments, resource finding, etc. These assignments will serve only as formative assessment, when appropriate, and won’t be considered for the final grade.
How I plan to calculate final grades is something I still have some questions about so will be the content of another post. Let me know your thoughts on this “create your assignments” approach. I know this is not “new”, but it will be new to many of my students, so I welcome feedback and suggestions. In this approach I hope to provide freedom within parameters that still allow me and the students to make informed assessments of learning.
How could something like this be done in k-12 education?