How Do Students Learn Honest Self-Assessment?

Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow, The Last Lecture 112, 113, 114, 115, 124-25 (2008).

            Educators need to help students realize the ability to assess themselves independently and honestly.  Students need to be encouraged to become self-reflective.  One of the most important aspects of a teacher’s job is to teach students how to judge independently their progress and “how to see their minds growing” in a similar way that a personal trainer teaches clients how to assess their progress by watching “their muscles grow.” Educators need to be honest in providing feedback to students, by praising students when they have succeeded, and by telling students when they need to work harder.  

Many educators have given up on providing feedback and have focused on “stroking,” resulting in a “downward spiral in education.”  In Carnegie Mellons “Building Virtual Worlds” class, peer feedback was provided every two weeks, which consisted of rankings of peers and free-form peer feedback with “specific suggestions for improvement.”  Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment and Technology Center has a master’s degree program for artists and technologists that focuses on academic freedom and teamwork in its curriculum.  Because of the bond that was created between the students through the teamwork, teamwork became integral to the program’s success.

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