I like the idea presented in “Student Self-Evaluation: What Research Says and What Practice Shows” (by Rolheiser and Ross), that students can find increased motivation and understanding when they are taught to assess their own progress. The authors qualify this by saying that students must have known standards against which to compare their work, and that the instructor remains important in being in conversation with students and checking in on student progress.
I often try to teach students self-assessment kinds of things, because I know they will go on to use the Bible in their work, and I would prefer that they actually use what I try to teach in class rather than ignore it. 🙂 So I have a list, for example, of what constitutes a good “research question” when they are getting ready to explore a text. I want to teach them how to ask the right kinds of questions, because often students end up with bad results simply because they aren’t asking a question that is likely to be fruitful.
I could easily turn this into a self-assessment rather than a post that is graded by me. They can use the same list about the research question as a rubric to assess the question that they are researching for that week. This would probably be more helpful than my doing it because it would mean that they would have to go back and look at the criteria at least once, and so it would reinforce what I’m trying to teach.
The difficult thing about student self-assessment is teaching them what the criteria are. I don’t think the authors of the article really let on how difficult this can be. It reminds me of when I was teaching undergraduate writing intensive courses, and I realized at some point that I really had to teach them what the difference was between high school and college writing, and then teach them to recognize when they were and weren’t doing that in their own papers. Not easy! But definitely worth doing, since if they can recognize it they are a lot closer to being able to do it consistently.