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The Role of Self Assessments

In my last two posts I talked about how I start the year by defining success and understanding what math mindsets my students have. As I get to know my students, my next task is to establish routines and structures in my classroom to help me effectively teach the content while promoting healthy math mindsets. There are many ways I achieve this, such as using project/problem based learning and problem solving tasks, but no matter how content is taught, it is necessary to discuss how to use assessments to measure outcomes. This is much easier when it comes to measuring specific learning objectives, but how do you assess a student's math mindset? In my mind, there is only one type of assessment to use here - self assessment.

One of the cornerstones of a healthy math mindset is the belief that math is something that is learned over time - not something we are born doing. Since it is learned, it requires effort. Are my students putting forth the effort to practice the skills required to understand the mathematics concepts? The problem with this is, how do you measure this? Effort is subjective. One person's working hard is another person's lazy. The only true way to measure effort is through self assessments.

My go to self assessment measures effort and understanding. Students use likert scales to reflect on behaviors that support effort, such as completing tasks, working on assigned tasks for the given time, and having on task related conversations.

I also ask students to reflect on a collaboration, agency, or oral communication strand. Skills that are necessary in every aspect of life. Instead of using a likert scale for this, I use a non-traditional rubric. Traditional rubrics use a numerical or proficiency scale to measure success. My biggest issue with using these on self assessments is that students often choose the highest rating possible because they know that the score will go into the gradebook. By taking the numerical and proficiency lens out of the equation, they give more honest feedback on their performance. Using this the past several years has been a game changer, especially when it comes to having students assess their agency, collaboration, and oral communication - areas that are important, but I cannot always observe for every student. In this example, I have students rate how well they asked questions using a crawling, walking, running, rubric. The rubric descriptions and sentence frames really allow for students to accurately reflect on what types of questions they asked and how they might improve in the future. When students can accurately determine their current level of performance in a particular strand, then they can directly see how they might improve.

Before I give this self assessment, I think about what activities we did leading up to it and choose an appropriate strand to assess. My favorites are asking questions, giving or accepting feedback, summarizing, contributing ideas, participating equally, contributing ideas, and using evidence to support claims.

The last thing I have students assess is their understanding of the learning objectives using a likert scale. At this point during the unit of instruction, I have already given several exit tickets and different practice opportunities so students have feedback in which to base their ratings. I already have formal data from students, but this gives me insight into their confidence with the material.

The ultimate goal with this self-assessment tool is to have students make the connection between their individual effort and their level of understanding. I believe there is a correlation between effort and understanding concepts. So often in education we have to keep the pace moving, regardless if all students master the learning objectives. Self assessments are the pause button. It allows students and myself to change directions or stay on the current path. It is only when we pause and reflect that we can evaluate our progress, celebrate the successes, and make a plan moving forward.

You can find this self assessment on my TPT store by clicking on the image below. This is a printable resource is customizable and includes rubrics for all of the agency, collaboration, and oral communication strands listed above.


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