Student self-assessment: An effective tool for academic success

Self-assessment in terms of academics is held as an effective approach in promoting a shift towards student-centred learning. This is important because students are able to define their own goals and the steps required to meet their academic targets.

By engaging in self-assessment, experts argue that students learn to make sense of their studies and use it as a stepping stone for new learning techniques. 

 

However, the phenomenon is yet to have an even greater impact as students now spend more time studying alone, says Maurice Ian Kayijamahe, a student tutor.

 

Kayijamahe says that following the schools’ closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, students, teachers and parents are settling into the ‘new normal’ for the foreseeable future. 

 

“One of the foundational principles of formative assessment is to help children become actively engaged in accurately assessing their own understanding and taking action on that assessment,” he says.

Kayijamahe explains that teachers can create amazing lessons by engineering discussions, scaffolding learning and providing guidance on the next steps in learning, but only pupils can do the learning. 

“It can’t be done for them. In other words, pupils need to be able to calibrate, self-assess and reflect.”

For Carine Tuyishimire a student at Blue Lakes International School, studying from home has given her an opportunity to self-monitor, draw on a range of strategies to decide what she should learn, what she doesn’t know and how best she can solve her challenges.

Tuyishimire who is also a candidate highlights that during evaluation, errors are valued as learning opportunities.

Cherish Nkurunziza, a teacher says self-evaluation develops and supports children’s metacognitive skills. 

“This form of assessment is crucial in helping children become lifelong learners as it focuses their efforts in terms of reflecting on their own learning. It powers a growth mind-set where they see their learning ability as something that can change and improve,” she explains.

Nkurunziza says that monitoring and self-regulation skills are complex and that they don’t just magically happen. But this is where the teacher steps in, she notes. 

“The teacher’s role in modelling and teaching children how to self-assess and peer assess is crucial. This involves guiding children in setting their own targets and goals and helping them monitor their progress towards them,” she says.

On the other hand, Olivier Minani, an IT expert is of the view that teachers and children need to share a common assessment language for discussing, thinking, decision-making, strategies, errors and misconceptions. 

“When children are taught how to approach their own work and feedback, it helps them be reflective about the quality of their thinking and their actions,” Minani points out.

This, he explains that it involves asking questions about their own learning: “What do I know? What do I need to know? What are the hurdles? How can I improve this? Assessment as a learning tool helps children take more responsibility for their own learning and monitoring future directions, he adds.

Minani also explains that when using assessment as a learning tool in the classroom, peer and self-assessment is an effective approach to enhance the learning of students. 

“Explicitly teaching students how to assess their own work, and the work of their peers has many benefits. It promotes students’ understanding of their learning and provides opportunities for critical analysis of their own efforts encouraging them to become more autonomous learners.”

eashimwe@newtimesrwanda.com

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