Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Creating assessments WITH your students. Pt. 3

Creating assessment together
In this final post about assessment, for now, I'll talk about how I create assessments with my students and not for them. I have used this a lot in my teaching now, so I thought I'd share why I think it is useful and how you can go about doing it. 

Making assessment more accessible
I was worried that my assessment methods were too subjective. By this I mean my students and I had different ideas as to what was being assessed. This happened for two reasons. One, I didn't explain the assessment system to them clearly, two, my students didn't understand it, or interpreted it differently. With this in mind, I wanted to make my assessments and rubrics, clearer and less vague.

I started by changing the language in my rubrics. A lot of rubrics I have seen are written in an overly complex way, so I wrote all my rubrics in a way that my students could easily understand and without needing to use any decryption software. Next, I wanted all my students to be able to access it at any time, so I created a page on my Wiki just for assessments, which means at anytime or anyplace they can check out what is expected of them for a particular task.

Even with the rubrics written in plain English and posted in a place, where it could be easily accessed, I still felt that I needed to do more to make the assessment process less of a mystery. 

Why create assessment with your students
While doing my MA I had a conversation with a co-worker on how to make assessment less subjective and more accessible. He and McConnell (2002) suggests creating the assessment with the students. It sounded so simple at first, that I couldn't believe I had never done it before.

Take a look at the two rubrics below. The first one I created by myself and the second was created with my students input.

Rubrics created by the teacher
Rubrics created with students
I used the first rubrics in a project. Even though the project asked students to write, it also asked them to create a Wiki page for the writing. I was only concerned with assessing the writing whereas in the second rubric, my students voiced that the design element of the project should also be taken into account.

The two rubrics helped me to see that sometimes, the teacher's and students' interpretations of what exactly is being assessed can be different. Therefore, when a teacher and his/her students create assessment together, both know what is to be expected. Then, there is no argument as to why certain criteria were not fulfilled. 

How to do it
This is quite straight forward to do. With your students, ask them what would make a good, or bad project. If it is the first time doing it you may want to give them some ideas. However, the more you use it, the more your students will be able to identify what can be classified as good. It is a learning process for both you and your students, so take it slow and see how it goes. 

Before getting into assessment, I thought it was an unnecessary burden on students. Now I have looked into it more and experimented with it, I have completed changed my view of it. A lot of students, and teachers for that matter, may be weary of assessment as we don't talk about it that much. It is often seen as something that the teacher controls and comes at the end of a task or activity. 

I realise now that assessment is an integral part of the learning process, especially when it is in a situation where a final grade is required. If not, assessment can help students to keep track of their progress. If I have learned anything, it is to keep the students involved in the whole learning process. I like my students to be active learners, as well as content creators and assessors. By doing this, I hope they can get a lot more out of the classroom experience. 

McConnell, D. (2002). Collaborative assessment as a learning process in e-learning. Conference on Computer Support for Collaborative Learning: Foundations for a
CSCL Community.


  1. Nice rubrics, did you use an online rubric-making tool, like Rubristar? Making them with the students certainly would help them to reflect on their learning.

    1. Thanks for the comment. I created the rubrics myself, but I based it on a rubrics created by Dr. Gruba of Melbourne university. You can change the developing - good - very good to add an Excellent so the progression of difficulty increases.

      Yeah, I like the reflective element of creating rubrics with students. It seems so obvious now that I can't believe I've only been doing for less than a year.

      Have you tried creating an assessment with your students? Or, do you plan to?

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  2. Hi Simon,

    Just to let you know that we’ve shortlisted this blog post for this month’s TeachingEnglish blog award and I put up a post about it on yesterday’s TeachingEnglish facebook page http://www.facebook.com/TeachingEnglish.BritishCouncil, if you’d like to check there for likes and comments.


    1. Thanks Ann, much appreciated!!

      I have just finished another post on a project I have just done. My students collected stories from refugee children, which will eventually be published in a book to raise money for a school for refugees. The link is below.