For all the classes I teach, I ask my students to do some form of self-assessment around the middle of the semester. The key to these assessments is that the criteria must be spelled out in specific terms. I target the assessments to address particular issues the class needs to work on. Here are some examples of assessment techniques I’ve used in the past:

For discussions:

At the beginning of the semester, I ask the class to develop their own “rules for discussions.” I ask them to recall the most recent intellectual conversation in which they felt fully engaged. This conversation need not have been in a classroom; maybe with a friend after a movie, or at 2:00 am with their dorm-mates. I ask them to write down the things they think made that conversation so engaging. Then I ask them to brainstorm as a class any ground rules we might set to create that same atmosphere in the classroom. I write these rules on the board. They generally set rules for me as well as for themselves; they have ideas about the proper role of the discussion moderator. Often, they will qualify each other’s suggestions. When we have a set of rules they basically agree on, I print them out and distribute them. At mid-semester I ask them to review the ground rules for discussion and anonymously evaluate how well they think the discussions are going. I ask them to suggest one thing I could do to improve the level of discussion, and one thing they could do to improve the level of discussion. My goal is to give them a sense of ownership and also responsibility.

For participation (specifically in ENWR):

At the beginning of the semester, I give students a list of criteria for participation on the syllabus: attendance, punctuality, keeping up with readings and assignments, making thoughtful contributions to class discussions, making helpful suggestions in workshops, participating in small group work, listening to other people’s contributions respectfully, helping other people to extend their own arguments in discussions, etc. I also give very specific descriptions of what constitutes an A student, a B student, a C student, etc., including the number of class meetings one has to attend to make that grade: An A student has never missed a class meeting, a B student has not missed more than one class meeting, and so on down the line. At mid-semester, I ask every student to grade themselves in participation by writing an argument, supported by reasons and evidence that defends the claim: “Based on the objective criteria for participation presented in the course syllabus, my mid-semester participation grade should be a(n) __ .” As a conclusion to this argument, I ask them to complete the following sentence: “The most important thing I can do to improve my participation grade between now and the end of the semester is....”

To improve reading skills (specifically in the ENGL surveys):

I have students fill out an anonymous multiple choice mid-term self-assessment form that conveys my expectations of what they should be doing. Here’s one I used for ENGL 381:

I attend the lectures...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I am ON TIME for lecture and section...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I read weekly assignments BEFORE the lecture...                                                                                                                                                             

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I make notes in the margins of my anthology to indicate characters, settings, plot points...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

While I’m reading, I look up words I’m not familiar with in the OED or MED...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I have printed out the Middle English glossary and use it when I’m reading Chaucer...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I pay attention and take notes during lecture...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I look up literary terms that come up in section and write down their definitions...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

If a literary term is not defined in Abrams, I consult another critical dictionary...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I find and mark examples of the literary terms as I’m reading and share them in section...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I look up the skill of the week in Abrams before beginning my exercise...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I struggle with the exercise until I understand the skill it is designed to teach me...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

If I have a question about lecture or the exercise, I ask it in section or go to office hours...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I turn in my exercise on time and it is as complete as I can make it...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I participate in section by asking questions, offering examples, reading aloud with the class, and doing the weekly paraphrases...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

After section, if I’m still uncertain about the skill of the week, I try applying the exercise to other texts...

               A) all of the time, B) most of the time, C) some of the time, D) rarely, F) never

I have not missed more than my one excused absence        True          False

On average, I spent about __ hours a week on this class OUTSIDE of lecture and section.

One thing I can do to facilitate my own learning is....