Prompt 1: "Do you feel that teaching is something that is done 'to' or 'with' you?"
Prompt 2: "Do you feel that assessment is something that is done 'to' or 'with' you?"
Re-assuringly, several students felt that teaching was done 'with' them (sigh of relief and energized by their feedback).
When it came to the second prompt, it became clear (and quickly) how many students have had experiences with assessment that qualifies it as something that is done without their involvement.
Having consulted student-engaged assessment resources (e.g., "Student-Engaged Assessment" by Ron Berger and "Assessment 3.0" by Mark Barnes) and thinking upon students' understanding of learning goals and success criteria, developing/deepening learning skills, becoming better assessors of their own work, and spending more time in a metacognitive space, we need to help students see the process of assessment as something that is critical to their learning. They need to see themselves as participants in the process and that it's about learning (not performing for marks or grades).
At this time, I'm reminded of the tenets of Daniel Pink's "Drive"--autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Fashioning experiences that utilize these experiences can be motivating for students (everyone, in general).
Thus, we need to ensure that students have choice (autonomy) in their assessments, the opportunity to take action on feedback to improve (mastery), and see that they can find purpose in engaging in this type of assessment ("I can learn", "I have an audience that is genuinely interested in my growth").
This semester, I'm setting a goal to work with my students at making the assessment process more of a collaboration--a co-learning experience. Autonomy will be an invitation to engage in an interactive and iterative process of continuously reflecting upon learning objects--always trying to improve understanding and deepening thinking. Assessment needs to be a true communication.
Technology will be an asset to make easier the sharing of comments and documentation (both teacher and students). OneNote Class Notebook can help with this process. As the communication develops, feedback will be framed using SE2R (Mark Barnes) => summarize, explain, re-direct, re-submit. SE2R will relate to the learning goals in support of overall expectations.
As students engage in the process, mastery will be a natural part of the process. As for purpose, my hope is that through developing such work habits and experiencing success, growth mindsets will take over and students' self-esteem will grow (further driving the learning process).
The final element is that of an authentic, larger audience. For whom, besides themselves, would students want to share their growth via student-engaged assessment practices? Perhaps this audience is a student's peer group (e.g., "It works!" Or "I can learn as or more deeply with less testing.") Perhaps this group will be other classrooms and schools interested in learning from our students who choose student-engaged assessment practices.
As an invitation to be a part of a larger audience wanting to support my students in Math at North Grenville District High School, using this means of assessment, please "Comment" that you'll be on a petition to supporting their efforts. Your involvement can be as simple as commenting "Count me/us in" and/or sharing your experiences with student-led assessment. Know that what you comment to this blog post can have a profound, inspirational impact on all of us.
I know that my students will appreciate your support and confidence.
Moving forward, I encourage you to check back in for updates on how we're learning together.
Chris Stewart, OCT
North Grenville DHS, Upper Canada DSB