As quoted in The Art of Evaluation, Boud (1991) states “Self-assessment refers to the involvement of students in identifying standards and/or criteria to apply to their work, and making judgements about the extent to which they have met these criteria and standards”. (Fenwick & Parsons, 2009, p. 111). Fenwick and Parsons go on to discuss the fact that, engaging in self-assessment can cause learners to become distressed if they do not currently possess the skills and abilities they need in order to do so. They suggest that instructors need to be prepared for this occurrence and be willing to assist students in the development of these skills. (2009, p. 111).
“The investment of time and energy in self-assessment is not only worthwhile, but critical in a world of fast-paced change.” (Fenwick & Parsons, 2009, p.111). Fenwick and Parsons share with their readers that the reasons self-assessment is so important in today’s society is that it; “increases people’s openness to learning, develops and sharpens work-related skills, fosters responsibility, fosters greater reliance on internal criteria, increases self-awareness, and enhances a sense of direction”. (2009, p.111-112).
I agree with Fenwick and Parsons when they state that self-assessment can be distressing for learners. When I was in my undergraduate nursing studies, we would use journaling as a method of self-assessment for any of our practicum experiences. Self-assessment was not a skill that I had learned in high school and, although, we had started to practice this skill in our nursing theory courses it was still not something I felt comfortable doing. As time went on, I started to become better at informal self-assessment techniques, such as journaling about my learning experiences during practicums, but was still very much uncomfortable with the process of formal self-assessment when having to assign myself a grade. One reason for my uneasiness with this activity, had to do with the fact that I never felt that I had a clear set of guidelines to follow when performing formal self-assessments. The second, and more significant, reason was that this was a skill I hadn’t fully developed or appreciated yet. Without these important skills, or clear guidelines I could follow, my focus really became about my grades. Instead of critically reflecting on how I actually did on an assignment, I would spend the majority of my time concerning myself with ensuring I gave myself a certain mark on my self-assessment, in order to be able to achieve the grade I was aiming for in that particular course.
Through the years, especially since my enrollment in the PIDP program, I have been able to develop my formal self-assessment abilities to a much greater extent. Throughout this program I have had several opportunities, in each course, to work on developing these skills. For a lot of the assignments we are required to include a rationale, along with the curriculum documents we’ve created, and this has really encouraged me to critically reflect on the work that I have completed. Not only do we have to provide a rationale for why we made the assignment as we have, but we have had to rate our own work based on the rubrics that have been provided. For me, the clear directions for the assignments in combination with the associated rubrics, has really helped me to hone my self-assessment abilities. This just goes to show that it takes both a certain set of skills, combined with clear directions and precise guidelines, in order for a person to be successful and master the art of self-assessment.
Now that I have been able to fully develop these skills, and have benefitted from the use of them, I have gained a greater appreciation for using self-assessment both personally and in my own classroom. I can now fully appreciate all of the benefits of self-assessment, mentioned above by Fenwick and Parsons, and see that it is in fact a critical skill needed in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world.
In The Art of Evaluation, Fenwick and Parsons do a fantastic job of explaining all of the benefits of self-assessment, how and when this evaluation tool should be used, and methods that can be used in the implementation of this process. They, however, focus the majority of their attention on the student/learner, and how to encourage them to get involved in the process of self-evaluation. They do not discuss the fact that instructors should be engaging in these activities themselves. In my opinion, if an instructor wants to implement self-assessment into their evaluation processes, they first need to engage in these activities themselves. I have always believed that an instructor should emulate the behaviors that they strive to help their students develop. If an instructor is continually engaging in informal self-assessment, by using reflective practice, I believe they will be that much more prepared to assist their students in developing these skills.
It can be difficult to get students into the mindset that education is about more than just the grade they receive in a course. In order to get students to really appreciate all of the education they are receiving, it is absolutely necessary for instructors to teach their students about reflective practice and engage in this activity themselves. According to the University of Reading
Developing reflective skills provides students with the ability to consider their own performance and to identify their strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require improvement. Students can then to use this knowledge to influence their future work, whether on a programme of study or in employment, by playing to their strengths and/or directing their efforts in areas they have already recognised as needing further improvement. (N.D., para. 2).
It’s clear to see that self-assessment has many benefits, not only to students, but to anyone who engages in this process. It can also clearly be seen that “students do not learn to monitor or assess their learning on their own; they need to be taught strategies for self-monitoring and self-assessment”. (The National Capital Language Resource Center, 2004, para. 9). As an instructor it is necessary for me both to engage in this practice and implement self-assessment in my courses.
In the past I have used a method of self-assessment, for participation assignments, in which I would require the students to provide me with the grade they think the deserved and a rationale, based on the assignment rubrics, explaining how they determined their grade. In the future, I would like to try incorporating self-assessment within other assignments as well, as it will help my students in developing reflective practice and critical thinking skills.
Through the readings and research I have done on self-assessment, I have learned that instructors should involve students in the process of creating the criteria in which they will be graded against. This strategy is best implemented with students who have the basic skills of self-assessment, so it would be ideal to incorporate this strategy in my second year health administration courses; these students would have already been taught and had practice using their self-assessment skills in my earlier courses. In one of my courses students participate in a substantial community service project, and as part of the assignment requirement they must provide a self-assessment on how they worked within their group and other’s involved in the project. In the future I would like to work with my students to get them to help develop the marking rubric in which they will be using to base their self-assessment on. I believe by engaging the students in this process that they will be able to further develop their self-assessment skills, helping them to become more self-aware. By incorporating more self-assessment strategies within my courses in the future, I will better enable my students to become successful life-long learners.
Fenwick, T. & Parsons, J. (2009). The art of evaluation: A resource for educators and trainers (2nd ed.). Toronto, ON: Thompson Educational Publishing, Inc.
The National Capital Language Resource Center. (2004). Assessing Learning: Peer and Self- Assessment. Retrieved from http://www.nclrc.org/essentials/assessing/peereval.htm
University of Reading. (N.D.). Engage in Assessment: Self-Assessment. Retrieved February 12, 2016 from https://www.reading.ac.uk/engageinassessment/peer-and-self- assessment/self-assessment/eia-self-assessment.aspx