Teach Middle East Magazine Jan-Feb 2018 Issue 3 Volume 5 - Page 20

Sharing Good Practice EVIDENCE BASED ASSESSMENT STRATEGIES BY REEM REKIEH R ecent shifts in assessment practices have been influenced by the realisation that ‘one size does not fit all, and that students enter classes with different sets of knowledge, as well as variations in understanding and comprehending taught material. Although it is quite simple for teachers to outline students’ differences in abilities, the strategies used to teach and assess students, very rarely caters to their differing levels. The teachers’ main focus is to cover the demands of the curriculum, rather than address students’ learning on a more complementary level. What tends to get overlooked in these instances, is the power students hold in their learning journeys. Assessment has always been viewed as mainly the teacher’s prerogative, and perhaps one that provides them with greater authority over other stakeholders. However, the involvement of students in peer and self-assessment strategies has proven to have a greater impact on teaching and learning. Central Role of Students Research related to the various formative assessment strategies supports the notion that student involvement in assessment related tasks, improves achievement. Writing in particular, which is an area in need of great improvement among many students in the UAE, is a great example in outlining the impact that peer and self-assessment strategies have, on intrinsically motivating students to improve writing compositions. The impact stretches beyond improved 18 | Jan - Feb 2018 | | levels, helping to create more autonomous learners who are able to provide feedback, reflect on feedback and to share knowledge. All of which are important skills to sustain learners in the 21st century. However, of greater importance, is the role teachers play in steering students on this path, providing students a central role in the learning process. Impact of Peer and Self- Assessment The very act of editing, whether that be peer, or self-editing, offers avenues for reflecting and evaluating one’s own writing or that of a peer’s (allowing students to enter each other’ s zones of proximal development [ZPD]); which ultimately see students utilising higher order thinking skills; according to Bloom’s taxonomy, and as such can lead to improved attainment in writing. The process feeds into practice and through engaging in peer assessment, students become better self-assessors, which leads to the state of self-monitoring; the instance where students are able to rely on their revisions as they become just as valid as feedback received from teachers or peers. Kristen Neilson claims that ‘through this process of self- evaluation, the writer both improves the finished written product and builds a repository of writing and revising Class Time skills for later use.’ (Neilson, 2012, pg. 1) In essence, students are evolving from dependent users of feedback to independent self-assessors, leading to the highest level of success in a learner’s’ journey; autonomy and self- monitoring. Systems of Implementation Although peer and self-assessment have been identified as effective strategies in formative assessment, teachers need to develop skills and acquire the knowledge suitable for implementation. Educational institutions need to provide opportunities for professional development; and most importantly, time. Ultimately, the goal for teachers is to be able to instill, in students, transferable skills in writing; as well as in other subject areas, through the feedback provided from various agents. Once achieved, students’ self-esteem and motivation increases, creating a positive learning climate. After all, one does not realise their potential until given the opportunity to do so. References: Nielsen, K 2014, 'Self-Assessment Methods in Writing Instruction: A Conceptual Framework, Successful Practices and Essential Strategies', Journal Of Research In Reading Reem Rekieh has a bachelor of arts in psychology and has recently completed a Masters of Education degree-Educational Innovation, with the University of Warwick. Her thesis focused on the effectiveness of assessment for learning strategies on improving students’ writing particularly in the UAE. Reem is the assistant principal of elementary at Al Yasat Private School, Abu Dhabi