Using Self-Assessment with Students

David Gooblar explains in this piece why he uses self-assessment at the end of the semester with his students.

There are many reasons to have students complete self-evaluations at semester’s end, but perhaps the best is that the exercise encourages metacognition. (…) metacognition is a significantly valuable tool at the end of a course, when there are so many opportunities for self-reflection. At that point, students have been working on the same subject for more than three months; before they move on to other courses, and other professors, give them time and space to reflect on what they’ve done, and how they’ve done it.

Gooblar offers several techniques to stir up this metacognition among students. Those techniques can be up-front about the end goals, but they can also be more subtle in approach.

Benefits of Cumulative Exams

Dr Maryellen Weimer writes this week’s article on cumulative exams. Students often express worry over the possibility that their finals encompass a whole semester’s worth of material.

Although teachers should not ignore or discount student preferences across the board, there is the larger issue of which testing procedures best promote deep learning and lasting retention of course content. The evidence on the side of cumulative exams and finals is pretty much overwhelming, and those empirical results should not come as a surprise. An exam with questions on current and previous content encourages continued interaction with course material, and the more students deal with the content, the better the chances they will remember it. Students don’t like cumulative exams for the very reason they ought to be used: preparing for them requires more time and energy devoted to understanding and remembering course content.

What are we to do if students dislike a particular evaluation, yet that evaluation is the very center of evaluation of deep learning? Dr Weimer argues that professors should involve students in the rationale behind such exams from the beginning and offer them tools to make the process more approachable.

Of the Importance of Early Assessments

As the semester is starting, David Gooblar offers us insight this week into the importance of early feedback on students’ work. Early feedback means assessments early in the semester. This feedback can be a key for students to adjust their practices of learning in the class. Gooblar explains that

Those students who felt that they received useful feedback early enough to do something about it were more likely to feel that their interactions with professors in general had a positive effect on their progress. They were also more likely to think that faculty members treated them like individuals. And here’s the best part: The more strongly students agreed with the early feedback statement, the more likely they were to say that they worked harder to meet their instructors’ expectations.


It’s a small sample size, but the implication is clear: If students are given a chance to monitor their progress in a class, they may actually put more effort into that class.

Early in the semester, we can keep in mind that evaluations and accompanying feedback can be crucial for student learning.

Developing Critical Thinking Habits

In “Critical Thinking Framework for Any Discipline” by Duron, Limbach, and Waugh describe a framework that guides our thinking about how to help students develop critical thinking habits. According to the framework, instructors can integrate critical thinking components through five steps: determining learning objectives, teaching through questioning, practicing before assessement, reviving, refining, and improving, and providing feedback and assessing learning. Read the article here.