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Larry Bohannon on Self-Assessment

My name is Dr. Larry Bohannon and I am an assistant professor in the Elementary, Early Childhood and Special Education Department at Southeast MO State University, Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2006) encourages schools, districts and states to advocate the infusion of 21st century skills into education. It also provides tools and resources to help facilitate and drive change.

One of the leading deficits the Partnership lists of high-school graduates is Professionalism/Work Ethic, defined as demonstrating personal accountability and effective work habits. Marzano (2001) also believes that students need to recognize that good work habits improve achievement, citing effort reinforcement and recognition as one of nine instructional strategies to improve achievement. Pre-service teachers are taught how to write lesson plans that contain formative and summative evaluations, but as educators we have traditionally not taught them to write self-assessments nor have we taught them how to recognize the students’ effort, except in those that excelled.

McTighe and O’Connor (2005) state assessments and grading should focus on how well – not when – the student mastered the designated knowledge and skill. Why not add a formal self-assessment in elementary grades for students to begin looking at how much effort they put forth to master the objective? If effort and achievement match, the student is well on the way to success; if they do not, then this is the time to help students see that effort and achievement work hand-in-hand. Recognizing effort or lack thereof will help students learn “how” to attain goals. Learning to set goals is great, but learning which work habits are needed to reach them is the ultimate task of all.

Hot Tip: The self-assessment may include questions to help students determine if they followed the directions, put forth their best effort, enjoyed the lesson, and what more they want to learn. If applicable, the self-assessment can also include questions that deal with how well students worked together or independently.

Hot Tip: The self-assessment for younger students needs to be on their reading level and possibly read aloud. The use of “smiley, sad and neutral faces” works well with the younger students. The number of questions for younger students needs to be few and having them circle or color the “face” that they select also works well.

Hot Tip: The self-assessment for older students may use “Yes, No, Maybe” and include a few questions to check comprehension.

Casner-Lotto, J. et al. (2006) Are they really ready to work? 4-16.

Marzano, R., Pickering, D., Pollock, J. (2001) Classroom instruction that works:  research- based strategies for increasing student achievement, 49.

McTighe, J., & O’Connor, K. (2005). Seven practices for effective learning. Educational Leadership, 63(3), 10-17.

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1 comment

  • Stephanie · March 15, 2017 at 7:56 pm


    I really enjoyed reading your article. I have to agree, self-assessment is not a common practice; especially in the formative education years. I myself didn’t have any concept of self-evaluation until University and I honestly feel that by that point its much to late.

    You mention that we should start encouraging self-assessment in elementary school, I am a childcare worker and was wondering what your thoughts were about starting self-assessment practices even earlier than elementary school; perhaps as part of a kindergarten readiness program. I understand that self-assessment requires an understanding of the self which requires a certain developmental level, surely this would possible at the preschool or kindergarten level. I just feel that the sooner we start teaching these techniques and skills the better it would be for the students understanding of themselves and the skills employers will be looking for later on in their life.

    Looking forward to your thoughts



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