Most teachers agree that students should take a more active interest in their own learning and self-assessment forms a part of this autonomous learning process. Self-assessment has had successful results and it is worth trying out some of these procedures in order to participate more actively in your learning and to understand how more awareness can lead to better results.
Learner Diaries and Journals
With learner diaries, students are encouraged to reflect on what has happened during the learning process. After a lesson, the student writes down what they did in the class and how they felt about the different stages of the class. Students should try to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to think about ways to put into practice and use what they have learnt. As students become more conscious of their own learning styles they will be able to set goals for future learning and evaluate their progress in a more effective way.
Progress cards are not a new concept. They have been used in a variety of ways and in many different educational settings. Students can use a simple pattern with a three column progress card. First define your short term aims for a lesson, thinking about different skills, maybe with the teacher who is taking the class. List these aims in the first column. A typical card might include “read and understand a text about zoos”, “write a letter to the newspaper about keeping wild animals in captivity”, “talk about the pros and cons of zoos”. Before the class predict your outcomes for each aim. In the second column draw a tick or a cross next to each aim to indicate your predictions. After the class, complete the third column with ticks or crosses depending on your performance. In this way you can identify your strengths and weaknesses in order to address them.
Recording yourself reading or speaking is very useful. Video recordings are even more useful because then you can analyse your body language and gesture as well as just the verbal communication. Most people feel uncomfortable listening to the sound of their own voice but once you get used to it you will find that you notice things that you had previously been unaware of. Learning how to be critical with yourself in a constructive way is something that requires practice.
Rating scales are a popular technique for self-assessment. Students choose a skill, for example, listening. They then write several level indicators such as “I understand as well as a native speaker”, “I understand most things but have difficulty with slang and idiomatic expressions”, “I can follow the essential points if the speaker is clear and the topic is known to me”, “I understand very little/nothing”. Pupils give themselves a score of between one and five, depending on their perceived level of understanding. The purpose of the activity is to estimate your ability before a task.