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Using self-assessment as a starting point

Watch Jonah discuss the pros and cons of two types of self assessment. What approaches does he talk about?
Self-assessment is when students reflect individually using the framework, thinking about their own skills and identifying which of the skill steps they feel they already do, and which ones they don’t. It is a foundational skill for developing self-awareness, which is an essential quality for students’ emotional growth, interpersonal relationships, and personal development. There are benefits to this approach. It can be a simple exercise that helps students to build an understanding of their own skills, and therefore a greater sense of ownership. It also reduces the time required from the teacher. And students can record their responses for further work in the future. It may also encourage students to develop skill steps independently without assistance from the teacher. There are some drawbacks, though.
If students aren’t very familiar with the skills, they can need a lot of support to make accurate assessments. Self-assessment doesn’t work very well with students younger than 10 years old, as they don’t have the self-awareness required to make accurate judgments. It might not work in some settings, depending on the cultural context, and how students are normally taught. Students can also be supported to complete their self-assessment. This might be in conversation with a peer, teacher, parent, or mentor, reflecting against the framework. They are then being helped to think about their skills, and which steps of the skills they’re able to demonstrate consistently, and which they aren’t.
The benefits of that discussion with another individual can help students to clarify their own understanding. By talking aloud students have to think harder about whether they have real examples to justify being confident in a skill step. And so, the results are often more accurate. Some drawbacks of this approach are that it is more time consuming, and can be more difficult to manage. It is also not very effective for younger students, and requires a certain level of interpersonal skills to run effectively. It might not work in some settings, depending on the cultural context, and whether students normally work together, or not.

One of the key benefits of the Skills Builder framework is that by breaking skills down into structured learning outcomes, it’s then possible to assess what students can or can’t already do.

Understanding students’ starting positions is important for teaching effectively. We can’t do this if we don’t understand what students already know. When we know this, we can target what to work on next.

It’s the same with the core skills. If we don’t know which of the skill steps students can do and which need working on, we could waste a lot of time teaching steps that they already know, or trying to build skill steps which need knowledge that students don’t have. There are several possible approaches to assessment. In this video, Jonah talks about the pros and cons of two types of self-assessment.

  • What approaches does he talk about?
  • When would these approaches be helpful?

Share your ideas in the comments below.

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Teaching and Assessing Core Skills

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