More on Student Self-Assessment

Researcher John Hattie recently updated the results of his 2009 groundbreaking study.  In his study, Hattie conducted a huge meta-analysis of the research to determine which factors had the greatest impact on student achievement. Hattie looked at home and environmental influences, as well as factors related to the school, classroom, and teacher. According to Hattie, the influence with the largest effect size was student self-assessment. In other words, out of the 138 various influences he researched, student self-assessment had the most notable impact on student achievement. What does this mean for teachers? It means that students need multiple opportunities to reflect on and assess their own learning.

A group of teachers in our district learned about Hattie’s research during a recent visit from author and consultant, Diane Sweeney. During her demonstration lesson, Diane showed us how this research could be easily applied in a third grade classroom.  First, Diane provided a clear learning target for the students: I can use sensory details to describe.  The learning target was displayed clearly for all students to see, and Diane explicitly taught students how to use sensory details during her minilesson. Second, Diane provided repeated opportunities for the students to practice self-assessment during independent writing.  She paused the young writers several times during independent writing for quick self-assessments. For example, Diane prompted the students to “Turn to a partner and show him or her one place you used sensory details” or “Take a moment and look through your writing for sensory details.” Finally, at the end of independent writing time, she offered one last chance for self- assessment when she took a quick thumbs up/thumbs down inventory of the students during share time by asking them to indicate whether or not they used sensory details in their writing.  In total, the students were asked to self-assess no less than five times during her 45 minute demonstration lesson.

Student self-assessment can be easily applied throughout a literacy block by providing small pockets of time for students to reflect on their own learning. Reflection can be silent, oral, or written. We found that self-assessment is more productive and accurate when students are given a clear learning target. For more on John Hattie’s research, check out his book, Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning.  Additionally,  don’t miss Tara’s thoughtful post on student self-assessment using a writing checklist.  It is a must-read.