It’s not uncommon to find a classroom where a few highly motivated students monopolize the discussion. To ensure that all students are learning, teachers need to find opportunities to actively engage everyone in meaningful ways. While there are many ways to engage students on a day-to-day basis using formative assessment strategies, another way to think about student involvement is via the overall assessment process. The more they are involved in this critical aspect of their learning and growth measurement, the better they’ll be better positioned for active classroom participation.
Here are three ways that teachers can engage their students in the assessment process:
1. Give students a voice in their assessment plan. Students understand that teachers and education leaders need different kinds of information about their academic (and school?) performance. Believe it or not, in surveys students see the need for multiple measures. When students share ownership of their learning—which includes their assessment— learning becomes more personal. You can support student-centric learning by:
> providing students with assessment options
> bringing students into the planning conversations around classroom-based assessment
> exploring peer- and self-evaluation
> training students to apply scoring rubrics to their work and the work of peers
The more involved and engaged students are in their assessment plan, the more they will understand how to leverage the results and apply the information to learning.
2. Keep students informed of coming changes in standards and assessments. Students know that things like standards and accountability assessments carry weight and influence their lives, though perhaps in ways less tangible than classroom-based assessments. They understand that schools are evaluated using summative assessment data. Students – at appropriate ages — want to be informed of what to expect, what changes occur, and what it means to them.
3. Boost engagement by helping students use their assessment data to set challenging, yet achievable, learning goals and targets. Teachers report that they are only able to provide an average of three minutes of feedback per student on assessments. By getting them involved on the front end with goal-setting, students can find more relevance in their assessment results and use feedback from teachers in the context of their learning targets.
Students are more sophisticated than you think in understanding how assessment results can connect to setting learning goals and getting more personalized classroom instruction. Increasing students’ assessment literacy will engage them as collaborators in their assessment. If you want your students to take a more active role in their learning, keep them informed and involved on assessment issues.