How can self-assessment enhance your formative assessments?

In his book, Embedded Formative Assessment, Dylan Wiliam highlighted five core strategies to any successful formative assessment practice in the classroom. Here are the strategies Dylan suggests:

  1. Clarifying, sharing, and understanding learning intentions and criteria for success– getting the students to really understand what their classroom experience will be and how their success will be measured.
  2. Engineering effective classroom discussions, activities, and learning tasks that elicit evidence of learning– developing effective classroom instructional strategies that allow for the measurement of success.
  3. Providing feedback that moves learning forward– working with students to provide them the information they need to better understand problems and solutions.
  4. Activating learners as instructional resources for one another– getting students involved with each other in discussions and working groups can help improve student learning.
  5. Activating learners as owners of their learning– self-regulation of learning leads to student performance improvement.

Though these are each equally important to creating valuable formative assessment for our students, numbers one, three and five are where I have focused most of my attention so far this school year.

I began creating ungraded self-assessment quizzes to use as one type of formative assessment for my students about two times each chapter.  The self-assessment quiz includes the following features:

  1. Two questions relating to the learning targets students will be tested on at the close of the chapter.
  2. Levels of Understanding – after completing the question, students are to spend a second thinking about which level of understanding do they feel they have achieved on this particular skill.            Screen Shot 2017-12-29 at 6.11.51 PM
  3. Mistake Analysis – after viewing the correct answer (no steps given), students work with peers, teacher, etc. to correct their mistake and then verbalize where their mistake was made.
  4. Success Criteria – after analyzing their mistakes, students use the pre-made  list of success criteria for each learning target to identify where they struggled.

Here is a sample of a quiz given in Algebra:

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I have found this process of self-assessment quizzes and mistake analysis to be eye-opening for me.  This process really zones in on strategy number one by highlighting the specific learning target and success criteria needed for student improvement and success.  I am still working with students to be able to identify which particular criteria they are getting stuck on.  I have found that some students know right away which area their mistakes fall into and other students are marking they don’t understand criteria when they do it correctly and vice versa – this is exactly what I am hoping to unravel with my students as the year continues.

I look forward to sharing with you soon how I have been focusing on strategy number three, sharing feedback with my students, through this process.  As I continue this process with my students, I am still trying to iron out just how I know that self-assessment quizzes and identifying success criteria are moving students forward in their learning.  One way I plan to dig deeper into that question is by giving a student survey – what better way to find out their thoughts than to ask?

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