Not quite sure how to do student self-assessment [NBCT C4]

As part of NBCT Component 4, you need to give a formative assessment. Last week, I gave this formative assessment to my high school geometry students:


Here was some of the work that my students came up with:


A wide variety of strategies and ideas, as well as levels of sophistication.

NBCT wants us to study and synthesize the results from the whole class.


This does not worry me. No problemo, there’s a lot to say here. I’m imagining doing something like this (or maybe this itself):


The student work analysis isn’t scaring me. The call for student self-assessment, on the other hand, gives me the jitters (the howling fantods):


The rubric idea? I hate that idea. And collecting a recording and making a transcript feels like a pain in the neck.

What other ways are there to have kids self-assess? Please, share your ideas. Here is what I’ve come up with so far:

  • Do what I always like to when asking kids to revisit their past work: do some whole-group activity that teaches them something related to the student work, and then ask them to improve their work. Usually I hand back a marked-up copy of their work — honestly, I think that’s an important part of revising — but I could just ask them to self-assess?
  • Maybe my whole-group activity could be teaching them different language for their strategies? And then they identify them in the student work?
  • Ooh, I sort of like this idea: what if I gave them a proof of the Pythagorean Theorem and asked them to compare their work to the proof diagram. Self-assess: how is your diagram similar or different from this one?


I dunno. Self-assessment isn’t something that’s an important part of my teaching at the moment, and I’m unsure whether it should be. Either way, I need to find a nice way to ask kids to self-assess for this portfolio.

Any ideas?

4 thoughts on “Not quite sure how to do student self-assessment [NBCT C4]

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Michael! The student work and the questions discussed here inspired some ideas in work my research group is exploring to digitally support open-ended questions in out-of-class contexts.

    It’s fairly orthogonal to the classroom-oriented concerns you’re discussing here, but I thought you might be interested anyhow: If you find the idea interesting, your thoughts (including harsh criticisms!) would be very welcome. 🙇


  2. I respect that you own up to not prioritizing certain things (in this case, self-assessment). I am definitely like that for certain aspects of teaching. Only recently am I coming around to focusing on self-assessment. To me, it’s important because students cannot be their own best teacher without it. It seems to me like I’m dis-empowering my students if they have to rely completely on me to know how effectively they are learning.

    I don’t know the details of this component, nor do I remember all the standards you’re supposed to address, but with that in mind (ha)… I see the most rudimentary self-assessment as just having students rate their own responses, possibly on a 1-3 scale or red/yellow/green light scale (“I don’t get it” to “Nailed it.”). That’s self-assessment. Accurate? Probably not very, but it’s something and it’s quick and easy.

    If we were to do a checklist, there are also basic ways to start, such as checking criteria… “Drew 3 by 7 square”, “Found the area of 3 by 7 square”, “Showed my reasoning” This may seem like a trivial task, as even I would think “well duh, I’m sure students already know if they flubbed on finding the area or not because um, it’s blank”. However, with the checklist, you have evidence of self-assessment. No checklist, no evidence.

    I’m sure you can find more sophisticated ways for your students to self-assess, but I’m just going off what’s immediately the most accessible. I would challenge your aversion to rubrics, as IMO that would be the next step up from a simple checklist. For me, it’s been difficult getting my students to self-assess with rubrics because it’s very unnatural, yet it’s very structured. As an NBCT candidate, I believe you are supposed to self-assess your own work along the way using their rubrics.

    Overall, whatever you can have students do that produces some sort of evidence indicating they can measure their own level of mastery.


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