Education is no longer a practice that happens to a student, but one that happens with a student (Bayse, 2014). Promoting student autonomy continues to be an important aspect of preparing students for the future. Previously, I have investigated the benefits of student autonomy in project-based learning, digital tool selection, and the troubleshooting of technology. With a lense on ISTE Teaching Standard 2, I am once again investigating student autonomy; this time as an important aspect of assessment for learning. Assessment for learning describes using assessment results to inform instructional practices, and it is often broken into two categories: summative and formative. Summative assessment refers to the evaluation of student learning at the end of a unit of study. Formative assessment refers to the monitoring of student learning during a unit of study allowing both teachers and students alike to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses, modifying instruction as necessary. It is intended to be ongoing and not embodied in a high stake final grade.
Personalizing Assessment for Learning
Assessment for learning strategies are most impactful when assessment is personalized, allowing students to be involved in their own growth. Basye (2014) claimed that “in addition to responding to students’ needs and interests, [personalization] teaches them to manage their own learning — to take control and ownership of it” (para. 14). Technology is useful in the self-monitoring process, in that online grade books like EnGrade and learning management systems such as Blackboard or Edmodo can allow students to play an active role in tracking and monitoring their progress. Stiggins and Chappius (2005) wrote in “Using Student-Involved Classroom Assessment to Close Achievement Gaps” that students are no longer shocked at the end of a grading period by their grade when formative assessments are implemented, and, as a result, trust and confidence are established between teacher and student.
Building a Rubric Together
The next step is to involve students in the selection of standards and subsequent formation of rubrics. Used at the beginning of a unit, clear guidelines and requirements can direct students in their learning. We know that students are most effective and actively engaged in their learning when they are fully aware of the end goal, instead of when they are forced to blindly follow a potentially unknown direction of a teacher (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). Students become active participants in setting their own personalized learning goals, and thus maintain responsibility for the path to get there. Teacher and student can work together to have a shared objective (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). According to Boud (1995) students should not only be involved in determining the criteria for an assignment, but also in the actual assessment and evaluation of their work. Students become partners in the learning process and the evaluation of their achievement (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). They can keep track of their performance and change their performance as needed (Stiggins & Chappuis, 2005). This results in the formation of the lifelong skill of making judgements about performance according to criteria (Boud, 1995). Student autonomy is also established by making it possible to practice this skill against other students’ work (Boud, 1995). Moroder (n.d.) noted that young adults already give feedback daily to one another in social settings. They critique one another, ask each other questions and share information; students also practice this online with their use of social media and collaborative video games. So, why not harness this in the classroom? Wiliam (date) claimed that peer assessment benefits both the assessed and the assessor, as students learn what meeting criteria looks like by evaluating both the successful and unsuccessful work of peers.
How do can educators use technology to support the implementation of formative self and peer assessments?
My exploration of digital tools first led me to a website and app called ForAllRubrics.com. It is a free resource that can be used holistically to integrate many aspects of assessment for learning. Class rosters are easily uploaded, navigation of the site is simple, and the digital tool includes an online grade book, access to a rubric library, and the ability to analyze the collected data. Students can create their own log-ins, without a required email address, to track personal progress. They can also communicate with teachers about their achievement by reviewing received rubric scores and making comments back to the teacher. With this tool, the grading process is not a mystery, and it is open to continued commentary between the teacher and student. Badges are another layer of this tool that can be implemented to encourage student achievement and allow students to monitor their own growth. ForAllRubrics can even be used in a portable fashion on an iPad, iPhone or even offline in order to encourage a mobile classroom. While all aspects of this site support assessment for learning, it is its ability to create rubrics in a partnership with students that could then be used to self or peer assess. Once students are logged in, they can use a laptop or tablet to self or peer assess with the click of a mouse or the touch a finger. Teachers can then log and analyze all of the data.
The biggest setback to ForAllRubrics is the inability to translate Common Core State Standards into rubric criterion. ThemeSpark.net aligns Common Core State Standards with rubric design. It is simple in design and navigation. As a result, working with students to select appropriate standards and design a rubric would be a seemingly straightforward process. Students need to be taught how to be metacognitive in their learning; rubric creation, self assessment and peer assessment can all assists in this endeavor.