Reflexive/ergative pedagogy is the practice of teaching whereby students' relationship with their instructor is dialogical; learners experience the following (as described by Mary Kalantzis and William Cope in their New Learning module (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, n.d.)):
I have created assignments that included knowledge production in the form of artifacts and reflection. I give students multiple ways to interact with concepts; and they often have a choice as to how they may present what they have learned. In the classroom, I have used the concept of the social mind through small group work.
Kalantzis and Cope write about philosophers and educators, John Dewey, Maria Montessori and Rabindranath Tagore, as representatives of reflexive pedagogy. “They represent in certain senses a revival of the dialogical, where the agency of the learner is at play in a dialectic between teacher and learner, the to-be-learned and the learning” (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, n.d.)
What underlies the idea that learning should include a dialogical relationship between learner and teacher is the belief that students, adults and children, have enough knowledge or capabilities to actively contribute to their learning.
No one would argue that some educational topics are pragmatic and necessary.
Christine Kupfer (2016) writes that Tagore felt that “children need indefiniteness, surprises and discovering the world first-hand without a clearly prescribed purpose.” Tagore believed that that was how children learned their first language and could learn other things this same way (Kupfer, 2016, p. 63). In order to achieve this, Kupfer (2016, p. 65) quotes from Tagore’s ‘The First Anniversary of Sriniketan’, The English Writings of Rabindranath Tagore, Volume 4, A Miscellany, ed. by Nityapriya Ghosh (Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 2006 ), pp. 493-498 (pp. 497-8):
Dewey’s, Montessori’s and Tagore’s educational philosophy were reactions to didactic teaching whereby the teacher is the main source of information and students are passive recipients.
Kalantzis and Cope in their New Learning module (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, n.d.) lists four essential components of didactic teaching:
Kalantzis and Cope (2018) in a presentation at 2018 symposium contrast didactic pedagogy to reflexive/ergative pedagogy.
Table 1 created from Kalantzis, M., & Cope, W. (2018). Multiliteracies: Meaning making and literacy learning in the era of digitaltext. Paper presented at University-Wide Teaching and Learning Symposium organized by Center of Teaching, Learning andTechnology. https://ctlt.illinoisstate.edu/downloads/symposium/2018/Kalantzsis-Cope%20Morning.pdf
As one moves from didactic to reflexive/ergative the student can express their agency more liberally. Self-discovery is encouraged. Technology makes long-term memory less necessary. In a world of diverse students from different cultures, in the reflexive/ergative model, knowledge is seen as judgment which is subject to argument, and justification instead of absolute fact. The different perspectives of the same event are acknowledged. The role of a community in learning is emphasized and encouraged. Assessments occur before the end of term or project and are an active part of the learning process.
In the world of Adult Education, reflexive/ergative pedagogy is embedded in many course curricula. An example of this is a course called Career Foundations. This course was designed to help students learn and establish career pathways that include entry into college with the purpose of obtaining a credential or degree. The course was specifically designed to be studentcentered. Students do most of the work as they analyze their skills, interests; research various industries and jobs then decide which one is best for them, then chart out a career pathway that will lead them to the career they want.
The course was created jointly by City Colleges of Chicago and the not-for-profit organization, Women Employed. A report by Women Employed (n.d.) states:
Two other examples of the application of reflexive/ergative pedagogy are apprenticeships/on-the-job training and bridge classes. Bridge classes are courses created to bridge the gap in education between an adult learner’s current educational level and the math/science/technology and language arts knowledge needed to succeed in a chosen career. Bridge students learn contextualized STEM and language arts related to their chosen industry.
An innovative application of reflexive/ergative pedagogy is the flipped classroom. Though the flipped classroom has grown in popularity, it is not the standard. In a flipped classroom the student has considerable responsibility to obtain knowledge outside the classroom. The student then comes to the classroom and must be ready to either share the work that they have done and/or work on a project in a group setting. If the project is intentionally ill-defined then the student may have to use multiple knowledge gathering processes to complete the project or solve a problem.
The Montessori method of education focuses on self-discovery, hands-on learning and collaboration. Tagore and Dewey share these beliefs about pedagogy. In a longitudinal study that looked at Montessori schools, it was observed that “although not different at the first test point, over time the Montessori children fared better on measures of academic achievement, social understanding, and mastery orientation (Lillard, Heise, Richey, Tong, Hart, and Bray, 2017).
Chloe Marshall (2017) reviews research on the Montessori method, including earlier research by Lilliard. She points out the weaknesses in some of the research methodologies (for instance studies that look at students only in school).
In her conclusion Marshall (2017) states:
Dewey, Montessori and Tagore’s philosophies of education were a rebuke of didactic pedagogy. In playing devil’s advocate, how might a proponent of didactic pedagogy respond?
Teacher centered vs Learner as knowledge producer – When a student has zero experience in a subject it might save
significant time for instructors to teach foundational material such as general rules on pronunciation or word stress in a foreign language.
Knowledge transmission and replication vs Knowledge as discoverable – A piano teaches a student in a didactic manner the names of the keys on a piano and how to read notes written on a sheet music. Another student learns to play the same song without knowing the names of the notes or how to read a music sheet. The second student learns by listening to the song. Both learners would have to practice repeatedly to memorize the song. This is a moment when long-term memory is wanted. There are many subjects that benefit from repeated practice and long-term memory such as skills of a surgeon.
Knowledge as fact vs Knowledge as judgment – If all perceptions of events are valid then this can lead to what ideas deemed as dangerous by a community to have equal say and influence on an individual or society. Can a hate crime exist if a group of people believe it is okay to treat another group as inferior and worthy of scorn? Does everything need to be re-evaluated constantly or can some values be absolutely better than others? If the idea of value is excluded from the definition of knowledge, then what is the point of trying to avoid some history repeating itself?
Individual minds vs Social, dialogical minds – If the learning is 100% social, there is still the need for some individual
assessment to ascertain if a student is actually learning something substantive and not hiding lack of knowledge or
understanding. There are also factors that affect learning such as anxiety and stress. These experiences are felt individually.
Long cycle feedback that is retrospective and judgmental vs Short cycle feedback that is prospective and constructive - The two can co-exist. It does not have to be one or the other. A summative assessment at the end of long term will force students to revisit what they learned during the term which can reinforce the learning.
Alberto Piedra (2018) summarizes some of the criticisms leveled at John Dewey (some of which echoes what I stated before):
Another criticism of Dewey I would like to add has to do with the notion that learning should be about the near and probable future. Much focus in education is on what is considered teaching 21st-century skills. Many articles have reduced these skills to:
The reason for the focus on these competencies often given is that these are the skills most needed by students to adapt to a world that's ever-changing technology-wise and is more culturally diverse; therefore, the success of students post-formal education depends on their adaptablity to change, ability to apply what they've learned to new situations;and ability to work with others. Underlying this is the belief thatthe future is not as predictable as it may have been during Dewey's time.
A blog post written on a Montessori school website (Meade, n.d.) discusses and responds to nine criticisms of the Montessori method. The listed criticisms are:
In Tagore’s case some of the criticism is that his school focused too much on the spiritual and aesthetic. He chose as a location for his first school a forest glade. He “envisaged an integrated view of education in which the physical and the intellectual, the social and the moral were not seen as separate from one another, but as interrelated, as parts of a single comprehensive truth” (Jalan, 1976, p. 125).
Reflexive/ergative pedagogy moves from teacher-centered to student-centered learning. With its strong focus on knowledge production, it could be considered a combination of constructivism and authentic learning.
C., Thriveni. (2018, February 6). Raindranath Tagore’s philosophy on Indian education. In Bhoomi magazine.
Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). John Dewey. [Image]. https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-
Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Rabindranath Tagore. [Image]. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Rabindranath-Tagore
Jalan, R.V. (1976). (Ph.D). Tagore: His educational theory and practice and its impact on Indian education.
Jean-Baptiste, K. C. (2019, November 2). Dialogical relationship between instructor and learner. [Image]
Jean-Baptiste, K. C. (2019, November 8). Main interaction between teacher and learner in a didactic relationship. [Image].
Kalantzis, M., & Cope, W. (2018). Multiliteracies: Meaning making and literacy learning in the era of digital text. Paper
presented at University-Wide Teaching and Learning Symposium organized by Center of Teaching, Learning and Technology.
Kalantzis, M., & Cope, W. (n.d.-a). John Dewey on progressive education. https://newlearningonline.com/new-learning/chapter-
Kalantzis, M., & Cope, W. (n.d.-b). Rabindranath Tagore’s School at Shantiniketan. https://newlearningonline.com/newlearning/
Kupfer, C. (2016, November). Atmosphere in education: Tagore and the phenomenology of spheres. In Gitanjali & beyond, (1), 59-81. http://dx.doi.org/10.14297/gnb.1.1.59-81
Lillard, A.S., Heise Megan, J., Richey, E.M., Tong, X., Hart Alyssa, & Bray, P. M. (2017). Montessori preschool elevates and
equalizes child outcomes: A longitudinal study. In Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 1783. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01783
Maria Montessori: Portrait. (n.d.) [Image]. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Maria_Montessori_(portrait).jpg
Marshall, C. (2017, October 27). Montessori education: A review of the evidence base. In npj Science Learn (2)11.
Mead, S. (n.d.). Montessori criticism debunked: 9 incorrect assumptions about student centered learning.
North Star Montessori Elementary School. (n.d.) Role of teacher. https://northstarmontessori.ca/montessori-philosophy/role-ofteacher
Piedra, A.M. (2018, February 1). The tragedy of American education: the role of John Dewey.
The Montessori Group. (n.d.) Origin of Montessori. http://www.montessorischools.org/montessori-overview/origin-ofmontessori/
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. (n.d.). [New learning module by Mary Kalantzis and William Cope].
Women Employed. (n.d.). Progress, pathways, & possibilities. https://d2kmvo39x6ghl9.cloudfront.net/wpcontent/
The use of multimedia in education is increasingly prevalent. This post looks at the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, its sub-theories, and the use of video within the framework of Kalantzis' and Cope's seven principles for new learning and assessment as it relates to technology.
Why Video? Video and Multimodality
Video is a form of technology that expresses multimodality. As Cope and Kalantzis point out in Making Sense - Reference, Agency, and Structure in a Grammar of Multimodal Meaning, “meanings are transposable across forms… but in the transposition, the meaning is never quite the same. Each form is partial. Its media have affordances, which offer both opportunities for meaning and constraints. This is why we need multimodality” (Cope and Kalantzis, 2020, p. 33). This is the reason human beings “habitually transpose meanings. Multimodal transposition is in our natures" (2020, p. 33).
Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning
Many studies have demonstrated the positive effectiveness of video as an educational tool (Brame, 2015), but the design of the content varies among its producers. Learning as the acquisition of knowledge that results in increased knowledge or changed behavior depends on memory. If memory consists of sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory, their relationship and interaction should be taken into consideration when creating or selecting videos as tools for education – especially the capacity of a learner to capture and hold onto information in his/her memory. Richard Mayer is credited for the cognitive theory of multimedia learning. In addition to using the information processing model, he incorporated Paivio’s dual coding theory, Sweller’s cognitive load theory, and Baddeley’s model of working memory.
Information Processing Model
The information processing model of memory treats sensory memory as transient. Part of short-term memory’s function is to decide which data from our senses should be analyzed for processing. The information that is considered too trivial to keep is forgotten; the remainder is encoded and transferred to long-term memory. Short-term memory (working memory) is considered to have limits on how much information it can hold whereas long-term memory in comparison is limitless. George A Miller (1956) theorized that short term memory, can only hold 7 ± 2 bits of information “for about 20 seconds. Further, typical [working memory] can process (i.e., combine, contrast, or manipulate) about 2 to 4 elements of information” (Greer, Crutchfield, and Woods, 2013, p. 42). Atkinson and Shiffrin developed the information processing model in 1968 (Malmberg, Raaijmakers, and Shiffrin, 2019) and Figure 1 illustrates the journey incoming data makes through memory.
Information Processing Model
Information Processing Model. “Adapted from Atkinson, R.C. and Shiffrin, R.M. (1968). 'Human memory: A Proposed System and its Control Processes'. In Spence, K.W. and Spence, J.T. The psychology of learning and motivation, (Volume 2). New York: Academic Press. pp. 89–195. (MindTools, n.d.) https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/cognitive-load-theory.htm
Dual Coding Theory
Allan Paivio’s dual coding theory states that the dominant sensory modes are visual and auditory in terms of the way people receive information and that memory uses two separate channels to process the information coming from these senses. Visual information passes through the eyes, sound passes through the ears; the printed word passes through both the visual and auditory channels. Because printed words pass through both channels this has implications for when presenting complex tasks.
An example of applying dual coding theory is already seen in instruction of low-literacy ESL students. Words that are easily associated with images are taught first in accompaniment with the images that they represent When using the vocabulary in sentences, the students already have the images in their mind associated with the words. and would therefore be able to translate the words better this might be more effective than just having students use a translator to build vocabulary.
Image is from Swerdloff, M. (2016).
Cognitive Load Theory
Cognitive load theory centers on working memory which is short term. It includes a discussion what interferes with learning as data is processed and analyzed in working memory. It states that because working memory has a limited capacity to hold information (Sweller, 1988), it performs a sort of triage on incoming data transmitted through sensory memory. It categorizes memory into three classes: intrinsic, germane and extraneous. Intrinsic information is that which is perceived to be relevant and vital to achieve the desired learning outcome. Germane information is relevant but not necessary. Extraneous information is irrelevant (though may be interesting) and will not achieve the desired learning outcome. If information is found to be extraneous to the learning objective, that is, it is not intrinsic nor germane to the desired learning outcome, it is disposed of (forgotten) and not sent to long term memory. The more extraneous data working memory is forced to analyze, the longer it takes for working memory to transfer relevant data to long term memory. This may result in learning activities having to be repeated before new knowledge can be considered acquired (Brame, 2015). Chunking information (into familiar bits of knowledge if possible) is recommended.
The following video (Bucy, 2009) provides an exercise that quickly demonstrates elements of cognitive load theory.
Model of Working Memory
Richard Mayer also credits Alan Baddeley’s model for working memory (WM) as helping him develop his multimedia learning theory.
In 2000, Baddeley added another component to his model called Episodic buffer. Its role is to serve “as a 'backup' store which communicates with both long-term memory and the components of working memory” (MacLeod, 2012).
In an article issued in January 2020, Baddeley, Hitch and Allen explain the theory’s development since 2000. Mayer’s incorporation of the above theories did not stop those theories from evolving over time as has Mayer’s.
The image represents the revised multicomponent model of working memory. From “The Episodic Buffer: A New Component of Working Memory?” by A. D. Baddeley, . https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-019-01837-x
Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning
For Mayer, “humans engage in active learning by attending to relevant incoming information, organizing selected information into coherent mental representations, and integrating mental representations with other knowledge” (Mayer, 2014, p. 47) See Table 1 and Figure 2.
The three assumptions of Mayer's cognitive theory of multimedia learning
(Mayer, 2014, p. 47) https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139547369.005
Richard Mayer's Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning
Image of Richard Mayer's Cognitive theory of multimedia learning model is from Learning-theories.org. https://www.learning-theories.org/doku.php?id=learning_theories:cognitive_theory_of_multimedia_learning (redrawn to improve sharpness)
The cognitive theory of multimedia learning states that humans intake visual information through one channel, and sound through a second; and that the written word is processed as both. The short-term/working memory processes the information and converts it to mental representations that incorporates what it can from prior knowledge stored in long term memory; however short term memory is limited in terms of the amount it can process, therefore, design of multimedia should take that into account. Humans construct meaningful knowledge when relevant material is selected, organized and integrated with prior learning.
In the video below, Rahul Patwari applies multimedia learning principles to a flipped classroom.
Patwari, R. (2015, April 9). Multimedia principles. [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcWSUnXz8kw
Patwari, besides discussing additional learning principles that come into play with multimedia learning, also discusses the need for chunking information. It is better to have information distributed through five short videos than one long one. So, how long should videos be? Brame (2015) reports that Guo et al examined the engagement levels of students based on video length from four MOOCs. Their results are from 6.9 million video-watching sessions. “They observed that the median engagement time for videos less than six minutes long was close to 100%– that is, students tended to watch the whole video (although there are significant outliers; see the paper for more complete information) (Brame, 2015). Other suggestions have stated that maximum length should be 10-12 minutes.
A study by Slemmons et al found that differences in immediate recall are negligible for long videos but there may be differences in ability to demonstrate understanding over a longer period of time depending on the gender and whether the student has a learning disability. While short-term retention of material did not seem to be influenced by video length, longer-term retention for males and students with learning disabilities was higher following short videos compared to long as assessed on summative assessments. Students self-report that they were more engaged, had enhanced focus, and had a perceived higher retention of content following shorter videos. This study has important implications for student learning, application of content, and the development of critical- thinking skills. This is particularly paramount in an era where content knowledge is just a search engine away. (Slemmons et al, 2018)
Applications for Video in the Classroom: The Seven Principles for New Learning and Assessment
Please note that this article was written earlier in the year before knowing how long the pandemic would last which is the reason the focus is on classroom applications; however, much of this applies to online learning as well.
The theories above have been centered primarily on memory and information processing. A general theory of technology by Kalantzis and Cope (n.d.) suggests how audio/video can be applied in a classroom.
(Kalantzis and Cope, n.d.) https://cgscholar.com/community/community_profiles/community-16395/community_updates/109824
Ubiquitous learning, active knowledge making, multimodal meaning, recursive feedback, collaborative intelligence, metacognition, and differentiated learning are the seven principles that are core elements of Kalantzis’ and Cope’s reflexive/ergative pedagogy. Reflexive/ergative theory sees the learner as an agent capable of producing knowledge and for this to occur, learning should allow for knowledge that is discoverable and navigational. Learning should also promote knowledge as judgment; knowledge acquired should be representable. Learning should take advantage of social, dialogical minds. Devices in service of learning, therefore, should be “cognitive protheses” (Kalantzis and Cope, 2018).
Table 2 looks at audio/video media’s capabilities in terms of the seven affordances.
Using Video in the Classroom and Reflexive/Ergative Pedagogy
Video has been part of education since televisions could be placed in a cart and rolled into classrooms. With the onset of the Internet and video sharing and hosting web sites, the use of this media has increased exponentially. The rise in online courses has jet-fueled the adoption of video especially in higher education. “Video has become an important part of higher education. It is integrated as part of traditional courses, serves as a cornerstone of many blended courses, and is often the main information delivery mechanism in MOOCs” (Brame, 2015, p. 1)
It is true that video have been the domain primarily of instructors in education (Kaltura, 2015), but there is potential in a student-centered environment, during middle school and high school years and in adult education to have students use video as a tool to demonstrate active knowledge making in multiple ways. Videography can be put to innovative use.
Please note that this article was written earlier in the year before knowing how long the pandemic would last which is the reason this section is from an in-person teaching viewpoint, but it mention using interactive whiteboards.
When teachers and students think of recording video many think only of a video camera, the video option on their smart phone or laptop. They click the function on and record, but there other video technology exists that can be used for learning. 360-degree cameras can be used to create virtual reality and provide students an immersive experience. Teachers can use neck-mounted or head mounted cameras to film demonstrations from their point-of-view (IPOV – instructor point-of-view). Filming IPOV is easier to do when performing a task, but for instructors who want their students to see them work out a problem or write an example on whiteboard and talk about it as they do that is hard to video record. One could screen record writing on an interactive whiteboard and record the narration separately or an instructor could try using an innovative technology that comes from Northwestern University. It is called a lightboard and is also referred to as the learning glass. This technology allows teachers to write while facing the student. It was created by Michael Peshkin (Fung, 2018).
In the video below, Michael Peshkin, demonstrates the use of lightboard technology which is open source hardware.
Peshkin, M. (2013, June). Lightboard : a.k.a. learning glass. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1I4Afti6XE
More information about about the open source hardware Lightboard (a.k.a. Learning glass) can be found at https://lightboard.info.
Brame (2015) has reviewed multiple studies that have proven the effectiveness of video as an educational tool. Research has also discovered that novice learners benefit from auditory narration rather than reading words when they are also required to process other visual information (Greer, Crutchfield, and Woods, 2013). Carmichael, Reid, and Karpicke (n.d.) found that when an instructor was in the video, watching that instructor perform a task boosted students’ confidence in their ability to accomplish the same task. Research has also found that video-based learning can result in improvements in teaching (Carmichael, Reid, and Karpicke, n.d; Gainsburg, 2009; Seidel, Blomberg, and Renkl, 2013).
One of the earlier critiques of Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning is that it did not address motivation. Mayer (2014) reviews some of these studies. In his conclusion he states that “overall, the papers encourage us to consider instructional design features aimed at priming motivation to engage in deep processing during learning, while not overloading the learner’s information processing system” (2014). Another early critique targets long term memory, and its lack of attention compared to short-term memory in Mayer’s theory. In discussing long-term memory one has to bring constructivism. Constructivism talks about the assimilation/accommodation of prior knowledge when acquiring new knowledge. Multimedia learning theories have focused on what happens before information becomes part of long term memory a.k.a. prior knowledge. CTML does not ignore long-term memory. It views the relationship between short-term memory and long-term memory as dialogical.
Endel Tulvig (Harrell, 2020) does focus on long term memory and considers long-term memory to have channels. These channels are more like compartments. One for storing episodic events; another stores semantic information which Tulvig considers general knowledge. There is also separate storage for procedural information. Harrell (2020) mentions the story of Henry Molaison as evidence of this. Henry Molaison suffered a brain injury. Though he remembered how to do certain things, he was not able to remember the context within which he learned to do them.
The understanding of how a learner processes information is essential for those who use video as a multimodal learning aid. It is important that video presented for learning not overwhelm the brain’s capacity to process and retain information. The research and videos referred to and included in this work discuss decreasing the cognitive load by removing extraneous information and aligning texts near the relevant images discussed. Keeping the videos short can also help. Reducing the cognitive load makes it easier for students to process the relevant information and students find the use of video more engaging.
Brame, C.J. (2015). Effective educational videos. http://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/effective-educational-videos/
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Swerdloff, M. (2016) Online learning, multimedia, and emotions. Emotions, Technology, and Learning. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/multimedia-learning
Nonyel’s definition as quoted above focuses on the process and stops at incorporating the results of the process into the definition. McMillan and Hearn’s definition is similar except that they add “identification and implementation of
instructional correctives as needed” (2008, 41). They also state that the learners “provide feedback to themselves based on well-understood standards and criteria.” It’s more than just a reflection based on observation and experience; it is formative and based on external criteria. In the classroom that criteria is offered often in the form a rubric. The attached rubric is an example of a self-assessment rubric from a Differentiated Instruction course. The students can use it to self-assess the lesson plans they created. The criteria are graduated and task-specific.
The inclusion of a rubric as part of a definition of self-assessment makes it more teacher-centric – assuming that the instructor is the person who created the rubric and not the learner. It can be argued that this is necessary in formal, organized learning situations; however, there are times when a rubric is not as important or should not be part of the equation. For instance, a learner may register for a webinar, or attend a conference with personal learning objectives that are a subset of the instructor, presenter, or facilitator.
It is the standard for webinars and conference workshops to not have rubrics. Also, self-assessment may begin before the learner is in the class. The enrollment or registration may be the beginning of the “implementation of instructional correctives” (McMillan and Hearn, 2008, 41)
Background and Interest
My interest in self-assessments comes from some experiences I have had as a teacher. At the beginning of a lesson or new topic I will usually ask students what is their knowledge of or experience in that topic. A few students raise their hand to say that they have significant or some knowledge or experience; however, ensuing informal dynamic assessments and activities show that that at least one of the students who responded had rated their skills or knowledge higher than s/he should have. I have also experienced the opposite, where a student rated themselves lower than I would have but that has happened significantly less often. Self-assessment is a component of many learning theories. I decided to look further into this topic to see whether my anecdotal observations have also been observed in research studies and if yes, how useful are student self-assessments.
Theory of Self-Assessment
Mary Kalantzis and Bill Cope (n.d.) list the following principles for general assessment in the classroom.
1. Assessments over a learning unit should consist of formative and summative assessments
2. Assessments should test the “full range of knowledge process required in the Learning Element;’’ the set should
cover the whole learning unit or a “special assessment task” such as a concluding project.
3. Assessments should be recursive; ubiquitous.
4. Assessments should involve multiple people: learner, peer, parents (if learners are children), subject matter
experts; invited critical friends
5. Assessments should determine the quality of knowledge and performance in the domains of “experiential,
conceptual, analytical and applied.”
6. Measuring imagination, metacognition, problem solving, teamwork and multimodal expression should be standard.
7. Measurement of teamwork includes the ability to collaboratively construct knowledge and make productive social
8. Peer reviews include open, one-way blind, two-way blind, and moderated
9. Assessments should measure learners’ ability to extract knowledge from collaborations and other resources of
knowledge such as experience, research articles, observations and apply that knowledge.
10. Assessments should be able to justify quantitative ratings with qualitative judgments.
11. Portfolios are part of assessments; they include objective evidence of what has been learned, ratings, and
commentaries and “not just what you can infer they have learnt in an end-of-program test.
Using Nonyel’s (2015) definition of self-assessment as “reflection, self-judgment, and self-monitoring to summarize one’s strengths and clarify areas for improvement”, then self-assessment comes into play in item 4 (ongoing reflection); item 6 (metacognition, problem-solving); items 10 and 11 (reflection). This leads to a theory of self-assessment as a recursive process whose goal is to solve a problem or actualize a concept; and the process must create metacognition. If this process is recursive, then opportunities for self-assessment must be given throughout a course of study which suggests having multiple rubrics instead of one provided for final outcomes which is summative and not formative. Does this matter if self-assessments are not accurate and vary from teacher assessments?
Evidence of Problems with Self-Assessment
Jean-Baptiste, K. C., (2020). Students’ self-assessment compared to teachers.[Video].
In a review of research evidence on student self-assessment, John A. Ross (2006) asks four questions (p. 1):
1. Is self-assessment a reliable assessment technique?
2. Does self-assessment provide valid evidence about student performance?
3. Does self-assessment improve student performance?
4. Is self-assessment a useful student assessment technique?
Ross concluded for the first question that “adequate consistency involved students who had been trained in how to
evaluate their work” but the consistency waned over longer periods of time. This decrease in consistency was acute with young children; and it varied among subject matter (2006). Using as a definition for validity to mean “agreement with teacher judgments” he found the results mixed in part due to “the criteria used by teachers and students were frequently not defined; there were few replications involving comparable groups of students,” and “self-grading was not defined” (2006, p. 3). Ross further goes on to discuss validity in terms of evaluating evidence that self-assessment does improve student performance. In answering the third question he discusses validity in terms of consequences.
The studies Ross reviewed found that students who participated in self-assessment did have positive achievement outcomes. Because of this, he concludes that self-assessment is useful (2006, p. 7), especially if the students are cocreators of the rubric for self-assessment and are trained on how to apply it.
Heidi L. Andrade (2019) reviewed research primarily conducted between 2013 and 2018 on student self-assessment. Like what Ross (2006) found, the results of the studies that Andrade reviewed showed mixed results for consistency (in terms of comparing scores to teachers) but a “positive association between self-assessment and learning”
(2019, p.8). She also found that the type of external criteria used made a difference. Students who were given performance-based criteria for self-assessment as opposed to competence-based rubrics performed better
(2019, p. 9).
Besides achievement, improvement of learner's communication skills (Nonyel, 2015), do other benefits exist?
The following video on self-assessment shows how some students view self-assessment as a benefit because it provides clarity. Also demonstrated is a way to create self-assessment for students in this elementary school. Studies show that students do better when they are co-creators of the rubric. (Ross, 2006).
JFF. (2013, August 22). Self-assessment: Reflections from students and teachers. [Video]. Youtube.
Ross (2006) also looked at how teacher’s viewed student self-assessment. Responses included that students were more engaged, especially if they were involved in the process; also students learned more.
Not all studies showed that students or teachers found benefits. Some students thought it was “boring” or felt that it was the instructor’s responsibility to assess students and students should not be involved. (Ross, 2006). The following Table 3 by Chris Andrews lists teacher response to interview questions regarding student self-assessments (SSA).
Application and Innovation
Multiple tools exist that provide an opportunity for students to practice self-assessment: external criteria such as
performance- and competence-based rubrics; LMS’s such as Common Ground Scholar created by Mary Kalantzis and
William Cope which has a built-in review component. The KWL graphic organizer asks learners to assess what they know, what they want to learn, and what they have learned about a subject. Other opportunities are online, quiz makers that can be designed to have students think about how they feel about what they are learning.. One of them is Bookwidgets.com. A link from one of their blog posts illustrates how it might be done (MyWorksheetAssessment (bookwidgets.com).
Another self-assessment tool comes from Brainscape.com. Brainscape is a company that has an innovative way to use digital flashcards. The software uses an algorithm that recycles flash cards based on a learner’s confidence about the answer. The assessment is based on the confidence that learner feels about knowing the answer. Terms for which the student expressed low confidence are repeated more frequently than others.
Below are screenshots of user interfaces from Cohen's (n.d.) article, Brainscape’s Confidence-based Repetition
Methodology. The student receives the prompt, then after tapping the virtual button are asked to express the judgment of learning - how confident they felt that they knew the answer. It keeps the history of responses and can display the history by single or across multiple subjects for each learner.
In a blog post about the benefits of self-assessment, Cohen (2017) addresses three criticisms about self-assessments.
1. How do you know the learner will accurately assess his/her knowledge?
2. How do you know learners won’t avoid thinking about how they feel about the answer and just reveal it?
3. What happens if a learner reports with high confidence their feeling about the answer and is wrong?
In terms of accuracy he says that since this is a self-study application there is no motivation to cheat. His answer to the second question is not strong. He simply states that flash cards are a good tool for when learners are pressed for time and that it's better than multiple-choice and matching questions “from a cognitive standpoint since they merely test recognition rather than engaging active recall” (Cohen, 2017). His response to the third question is that corrections to wrong answers for which learners felt very confident can “yield better retention benefits than if the confidence was never misjudged in the first place" (2017). For his response he refers to Butterfield and Metcalfe's 2006 article, "The Correction of Errors Committed with High Confidence" in Metacognition and Learning.
I wanted to explore in this paper whether student-self assessments are consistent with teacher assessments, and if it is not, what is its value? Studies have shown that inconsistency does exists between teacher and student self-assessments; however, self-assessments are positively correlated with achievement. Results of studies suggest that achievement can be further increased when students have an external criteria to use for self-assessment; especially if they co-created the external criteria, or received training on how to interpret and apply the external criteria. The value of self-assessment, then is not in its reliability or accuracy but in the resulting rise in achievement when it is used; and perhaps it should only be used as formative and not made part of any summative assessment that is tied to grades.
Andrade, H. L. (2019) A critical review of research on student self-assessment. Frontiers in Education. 84. https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2019.00087
Andrews, C. (2016, June). Student self-assessment: Teachers’ definitions, reasons, and beliefs. [Thesis]. Indiana University Bloomington. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/318927776_Student_selfassessment_
BookWidgets (n.d.). [Screenshot of an online student self-assessment]. From https://www.bookwidgets.com/play/SCKZLD
Cohen, A. S. (n.d.) Brainscape’s "Confidence-Based Repetition" methodology. https://www.brainscape.com/images/cms/research/Confidence-Based_Repetition.pdf
Cohen, A. S. (2017, April 18). The benefits of self-assessment. https://www.brainscape.com/blog/2010/04/benefits-of-selfassessment/
Jean-Baptiste, K. C. (2019). Differentiated Lesson Plan Rubric.
Jean-Baptiste, K. C., (2020). Students’ self-assessment compared to teachers.’ [Video].
JFF. (2013, August 22). Self-assessment: Reflections from students and teachers. [Video]. Youtube.
Kalantis, M. & Cope, B. (n.d.) Assessment. https://newlearningonline.com/learning-by-design/assessment
McMillan, J. H., & Hearn, J. (2008, Fall). Student self-assessment: The key to stronger student motivation and higherachievement. Educational Horizons, 87(1), 40-49. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ815370.pdf
Nonyel, N. P. (2015, June 19). Self-assessment is essential to lifelong learning. Educational theory and practice.
Ross, J. (2006). The reliability, validity, and utility of self-assessment. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation. 11(10). https://pareonline.net/pdf/v11n10.pdf
Webb, S. (n.d.). [Training : Woman looking in the mirror]. [Image with added text]. https://pixabay.com/photos/trainingmuscles-arms-blonde-828726/
The Jigsaw teaching technique reorganizes students in a classroom into small groups around a learning activity. It taps into the social mind of the individual, the collective intelligence of the groups, and promotes collaboration. The Jigsaw teaching technique was created in 1971 by Elliot Aronson, an American social psychologist. He hoped this collaborative learning model would ease racial tensions in schools that had been forcibly integrated during the 1970’s after Civil Rights Act.
Aronson’s website lists instructions on the implementation of the Jigsaw technique (Aronson, E. (n.d.)):
1. Divide students into 5- or 6-person jigsaw groups. The groups should be diverse in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, and ability.
2. Appoint one student from each group as the leader. Initially, this person should be the most mature student in the group.
3. Divide the day’s lesson into 5-6 segments. For example, if you want history students to learn about Eleanor Roosevelt, you might divide a short biography of her into stand-alone segments on: (1) Her childhood, (2) Her family life with Franklin and their children, (3) Her life after Franklin contracted polio, (4) Her work in the White House as First Lady, and (5) Her life and work after Franklin's death.
4. Assign each student to learn one segment. Make sure students have direct access only to their own segment.
5. Give students time to read over their segment at least twice and become familiar with it. There is no need for them to memorize it.
6. Form temporary “expert groups” by having one student from each jigsaw group join other students assigned to the same segment. Give students in these expert groups time to discuss the main points of their segment and to rehearse the presentations they will make to their jigsaw group.
7. Bring the students back into their jigsaw groups.
8. Ask each student to present her or his segment to the group. Encourage others in the group to ask questions for clarification.
9. Float from group to group, observing the process. If any group is having trouble (e.g., a member is dominating or disruptive), make an appropriate intervention. Eventually, it's best for the group leader to handle this task. Leaders can be trained by whispering an instruction on how to intervene, until the leader gets the hang of it.
10. At the end of the session, give a quiz on the material. Students quickly come to realize that these sessions are not just fun and games but really count.
The score for the assessment at the end is an individual score. In 1986, Robert Slavin proposed adding a group score to the individual. Each student would receive 2 scores as a result. The group score would be the average of each student in the original group. The assumption for this change is that including group score "builds in competition between groups and encourages students to work harder at helping each other learn the material well.” (Gonzalez, 2015)
In practice, I’ve used the Jigsaw teaching strategy, for new learning and as a review activity.
When the purpose was new learning, the activity was around the textbook. Groups would be assigned either different chapters or large segments of a chapter depending on how much information needed to be covered as part of the day’s lesson. The assessment after the group work was an oral presentation by each group. I would ask questions based on what I thought was missing from the presentation. After each group was finished, I would summarize the information and fill-in the gaps. No scores were involved.
When a Jigsaw was used as part of a review for a formal assessment, I started by forming Expert groups first. Each expert group would receive a set of questions for which they had to collectively find the answer. The students would then be reorganized into groups where each member had answers from a different set of questions. They would share the answers from their expert group. The assessment was the midterm or a final exam that occurred on the same day. Also, more often than not, the students had received 100% of the review questions to study prior to the day of the official review.
Though the Jigsaw method was created as a tool to use in the classroom to break up racial cliques and promote racial harmony I have not used this technique specifically for that nor have I made the more mature person lead each group as suggested by Aronson. I worked with international, adult students and I have used other small group teaching techniques to foster ethnic tolerance and understanding. For the Jigsaw, I created groups based on strengths and weaknesses and I would let the students decide how they would approach finding the answers to the questions, especially when they were in disagreement, and who would lead. (Usually, that person was the result of self-selection.)
The use of the Jigsaw technique for new learning and review takes advantage of the social mind to augment the collective knowledge of a community.
Aronson, E. (n.d.) The jigsaw classroom. https://www.jigsaw.org
Gonzalez, J. (2015, April 15.) The Jigsaw method. [Video]. Youtube. https://youtu.be/euhtXUgBEts
Didactic teaching will always be a tool when teaching students whose primary language is not English. Should it take up most of the class time? No. It is useful when introducing/reviewing terms that are unfamiliar to students. I’ve taught English to international students and I’ve taught business courses to international students.
When teaching English to low level fluency students, yes at some point they can and should research vocabulary on their own using translators, but before they can do that they have to learn to understand the words you are using when you are asking them to look up a word on their own. Writing directions in their own language on the board is not enough. They need to understand also what you are saying.
When it came to business classes, the students were more fluent. I would first test their knowledge of the day’s topic(s) by asking them to talk about their experience in the subject. What would happen next depended on the topic and density of the textbook material and what I knew was on the quizzes, midterm and final exam. These assessments were mandatory and standardized across all sections and campuses. In courses where the vocabulary and number of concepts for the course was numerous and explained densely in the book, I would lecture more. One of the strategies I would use for lecturing is the 10-2.
The video below by Let's Teach talks describes the strategy and its benefits.
The lecture would often be followed by discussion, small group work then individual work; and even with the individual work time students were allowed to ask their fellow classmates for help as long as the final product was their own. Having students help each other during individual class time in an English language class happened less often because it’s important that at least some of the work that students produce is 100% specific to them so the instructor can more easily identify what that student needs to improve their fluency and incorporate that in future lessons.
Let's Teach. (2016, January 24). Instructional strategies: The ten plus two teaching method. [Video] Youtube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2udPWz_3vg
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