Self-Assessment: Charting Your Own Progress
November 21st, 2011 by Dr. Bruce Johnson
Your success as an online student depends upon how well you perform and how effectively you develop supporting skill sets. Students often gauge their performance by the grades and feedback received from their instructor, which may not be received until the next assignment due date. However, to fully understand and improve your progress, you need to be able to reflect on your performance and utilize critical thinking and analysis because self-reflection and self-assessment will allow you to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses at any point throughout the class.
Charting Your Progress
A method of self-assessment that instructors often use is called Classroom Assessment Techniques. This is a non-graded activity that instructors will ask students to complete so they can gauge how well you understand the course materials and topics. For example, you may be asked to write a One Minute Paper or quick statement of everything you have learned throughout the week. Instructors review the results and adjust or adapt their instructional strategies based upon the results. As an online student, you can also utilize this assessment at any time to evaluate the knowledge you’ve acquired and chart your progress with meeting the learning goals and objectives. The primary disadvantage of this technique is that it is an overview or learning summary, rather than an analysis of your performance.
Self-Assessment of Your Performance
Your performance in the online classroom is measured according to how well you complete your assignments, which includes the overall quality of your work product. Most instructors will provide feedback that offers guidance, which is the first source for self-assessment of your performance. Reading the comments and feedback is only a start – you also need to internalize that information and determine how it applies to your work. The use of critical thinking and analysis will help you because you are reflecting on your past performance in a manner that will allow you to improve your future performance. For example, if your instructor states that additional sources are needed to support the development of your paper, review your past assignments and analyze the quantity and quality of sources included.
Self-Assessment of Your Skill Sets
As you reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of your performance, it is also important to review the skill sets necessary to perform well. The following is a list of skills that online students need and you can utilize it as a checklist during your own self-assessment.
1. Skills needed to complete your assignments.
How would you rate your ability to conduct research? If an assignment requests the use of credible sources, do you know where to look for information? Instructors will expect you to find sources that are credible, accurate, current, and peer-reviewed.
How would you rate your writing skills? Are you familiar with the writing resources offered by your school? Academic writing requires the use of proper mechanics, including spelling and grammar.
How effective are your reading skills? Do you fully comprehend the assigned readings and do you use a note-taking method? You can improve your reading strategy by assessing your learning style and discovering what techniques match your preferred style.
How would you rate your communication skills? Can you express your thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely, for all classroom postings and written assignments? Do you feel comfortable asking your instructor for help when you need it? Within an online classroom, your written words represent you and your ability to communicate effectively in this environment will have an impact on your overall performance.
2. Skills needed to work online.
How would you rate your overall computer skills? Do you know where to look for information and resources within the classroom? Here is a list of the basic computer skills needed:
A. Sending and receiving email.
B. Working with software programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to create documents or presentations.
C. Conducting an information search through the Internet.
D. Saving and retrieving files on your computer.
E. Opening and reviewing audio or video files.
F. Working with the basic functions and tools of an online classroom. The most common features include a discussion board, grade book (for submitting assignments and receiving feedback), and a designated section for course materials. Some online classrooms also have a chat forum and designated thread for questions.
3. Personal management skills necessary for your success.
How well do you manage your time? Balancing class work with other responsibilities is a major concern for online students. Every week, there are assignment deadlines and it is important not to fall behind on your class work as most online classes move at an accelerated pace. The development of an effective time management plan will keep you organized and on track each week.
Are you self-motivated? You are responsible for keeping up with your class work and that includes maintaining active participation without the benefit of seeing the class face-to-face. In addition, many online students are completing their class work at night and on the weekend, which requires discipline to stay focused on the required readings and assignments.
Self-assessment is an effective method of determining your progress throughout the class because it is a proactive approach to self-development. To assess what you’ve learned, you can utilize a Classroom Assessment Technique, such as a One Minute Paper. In contrast, performance assessment begins with a review of your instructor’s feedback and continues through a process of critical analysis, reviewing the skill sets required for a successful online student. Both forms of assessment will provide you with information necessary to improve or maintain your progress.
By Dr. Bruce Johnson
Photo: © Ocean/Corbis