We have added a self-evaluation stage to the quizzes in our grade 11 physics course, turning the quizzes into a valuable learning experience for our students (assessment for learning). Students begin by answering the quiz questions in a traditional fashion, finishing with a quick reflection about any difficulties they might have had. Next, students bring their quizzes to the front of the class where there are multiple copies of the solution and coloured pens to be used for marking. They make additions or corrections to their work, gaining immediate feedback, and submit the marked-up quiz.
With this format for our quizzes, we have two aspects of students’ work to mark: their original physics answers, and the quality of their efforts to correct or improve their work. In a typical quiz, 10 marks might be for the physics content and two marks for the quality of the corrections students have made. In addition to the numerical mark, we add in any further corrections or descriptive feedback necessary.
“The process students underwent, answering a reflection during the quiz and then carefully comparing their work with the solution (an exemplar), helps them to develop metacognition. In addition, when we review their markings, we can see what problems they were able to correct and what issues they did not even recognize as problems.”
Below are some examples of marked quizzes. Students made corrections in blue. My corrections and assessment are in red. You can also see the instructions that were part of the quiz. ￼￼￼
Why did we adopt this approach and how can it improve student learning?
Feedback: Feedback is most effective when given immediately in a clearly targeted way. Students have their responses fresh in their minds and have a better chance of remembering the reasoning they used which led them to their answers. When giving feedback even a day later, their memory of that reasoning can fade. With the reasoning fresh, they have the best chance of mentally confronting the ideas that led to any incorrect responses.
Metacognition: Experts in every field have the ability to continuously monitor their own work, assess its quality and seek way to remedy its deficiencies. In education this is called metacognition, and it is perhaps the defining characteristic of successful life-long learners. Our students are just at the beginning stage of developing these capabilities. The process students underwent, answering a reflection during the quiz and then carefully comparing their work with the solution (an exemplar), helps them to develop this metacognitive sense. In addition, when we review their markings, we can see what problems they were able to correct and what issues they did not even recognize as problems. Sometimes they identified errors where none existed – this too is another step in refining their metacognitive sensibilities.
Teaching Efficiency: This strategy alleviates the task of giving feedback for material the student can quickly self-correct. Instead, we can focus on the issues students do not perceive themselves. By the end of this quiz process, students will have a carefully corrected quiz to reflect on and study from. If instead, we simply post a solution for students’ reference, students will not deliberately reflect on the thinking process that led them to their results, nor will they find out what ideas they were unaware of, or were blind to. This is different from simply recognizing what they did right or wrong.