Evaluation and Instructional Design

Re: self-assessment and creating a culture of collaborative exchange

by Cindy Xin -
Number of replies: 0
Sarah, it is a fine example of integrating assessment with learning. I'm a fan of low-stake assessment aiming at learning. By low-stake assessment I mean non-graded and specifically targeted (at a learning goal or objective) kind of assessment that often done by individual students on their own or through their peers. This kind of assessments are agile that can be relatively easily and yet thoughtfully designed. They can be used in the process of teaching of learning for self-monitoring and peer-review, and ultimately fostering self-reflection and critical evaluation.

I have an activity I used in online discussion in the sense described above. The idea is to have a small group of students (e.g., 3-4 members) working together and individually at the same time. The group is signed to work on a central topic of discussion. Each individual member of the group is responsible for a subtopic by building a discussion around it through engaging other members from the group. They are instructed to contribute to and critique each other's subtopic. The interesting thing is that the students quickly figure out that in order to build an intriguing case for their own subtopic, they all have to critically contribute to each other's discussion area while at the same time posting and responding within their own areas. It's a kind of borrowing the "prisoner's dilemma" concept - the best chance of succeeding individually (to "escape") is to actually help out each other and work collaboratively. After a period of discussion, say one or two-weeks, each member of the group writes a summary of issues being critically evaluated in his/her subtopic area and the conclusions (sometimes tentative) reached. The second stage of the activity is to have the group work together to build a case or report on the central topic by linking and integrating the subtopics.

In the above example the individual summaries and the final group report can be graded; however, the discussion process is not - the quality control is done by individual members through peer-review and self-reflection.