When students can reflect better, they can provide solutions to their problems. Can we get to a point where students write effective 'What Went Well?' (WWW) and 'Even Better If...' (EBI) statements for themselves? This article explores how...
Let's face it – when giving students the opportunity to peer-review, self-mark or reflect on their progress we find out that the juice wasn't worth the squeeze:
In my experience, I have found students are not amazing at giving themselves specific praise and areas for improvement. What if students could evaluate their progress effectively? Can we get to a point where students write effective WWW and EBI statements for themselves? The benefits of this are obvious – reduced teacher marking, more student ownership, more effective DIRT and ultimately better progress. The culture of autonomy promises much for teaching and learning. We have to invest time into developing resources that lead to high quality student autonomy. As well as learning our subjects, they need to learn how to reflect and take this forward.
To begin this process, the students need to learn why they get things wrong in assessment. Our Head of Science, S Hawkins, has developed a list of potential reasons specifically to science (lack of knowledge, poor graph skills, misinterpreted the question etc.). Giving students this template in the early stages of their education can give time for continuous reinforcement until their GCSE years. Eventually, you may be able to wean students off these generic statements and use them to influence better reflections.
When students can reflect better, they can provide solutions to their problems as well, seen with experimental work with NWR's Year 11 class:
As we approach the end of Year 11, we pass the baton onto the students as they revise for their exams. They flick through their assessments and realise they have catalogued and evaluated their whole journey. They know what they can do, what they can't do very well and why. They have evidence of where reflection has been useful – and they were able to close gaps themselves by providing better and refined direction. They also know some suitable strategies they could attempt to resolve the issues. Most importantly, they did this all themselves because they were trained from day one.
The level of uncertainty lies within the teachers ‘assessing' the quality of reflections. Do we assume that teaching them how to reflect in Year 7, 8 and 9 will do its job? Could we read and give it back if it's not good enough? Answers on a postcard...