Teacher Educators Rethink Self-Assessment in Higher Education

A Guide for the Perplexed

by Judith McVarish (Volume editor) Catherine Milne (Volume editor)
©2014 Textbook XIV, 154 Pages
Series: Counterpoints, Volume 380


This edited book provides readers with a guide for implementing self-assessment and self-evaluation that is based on a model implemented successfully in a diverse range of teacher education courses. Educators from disciplines as diverse as theater arts, early childhood, psychology, mathematics, and science education have adopted a model of self-assessment and self-evaluation that supports the individual ongoing assessment of learning throughout a course as well as the final synthesis of individual learning in the course. Self-assessment and self-evaluation are presented here as a means to help students and teachers reinvent the learning process as co-constructed, powered by evidence and agency in order to lift thinking beyond the mere attainment of an end-point grade; to help students own their learning in new ways they may not have experienced before; to think about teaching and learning that will carry them beyond their formal schooling years; and to value new questions as evidence of learning.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • PREFACE: So Why Self-Assessment?
  • A Feedback Pastiche: Students Assess Self-assessment
  • Evaluating This Model
  • References
  • CHAPTER 1: Moving Beyond Grade-Getting with Self-Assessment
  • The Status of Assessment in Higher Education
  • Models of Assessment and the Benefit of Self-assessment and Self-evaluation
  • A Short History of Assessment in Teacher Education
  • Assessment and Standardized Testing
  • Assessment and Self-Assessment
  • Understanding the "Self in Assessment and Evaluation
  • Why Develop a Model for Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation in Teacher Education?
  • References
  • CHAPTER 2: Setting the Stage: Introducing a Model for Using Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation in Teacher Education
  • Classroom as a Learning Culture
  • Setting the Stage
  • Evidence of Emerging Shifts
  • Conclusions and Implications
  • Acknowledgments
  • References
  • CHAPTER 3: A Model of Action for Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation: The Nuts and Bolts of Getting Started
  • Self-Assessment Tools for Reflection and Feedback: Classroom Interactions, Sense of Self, and Generating Evidence
  • Response Cards
  • Reflective Journal
  • Discussion Board, Wiki, Blog (Web log) and Twitter
  • Course Tasks and Discussion
  • Cogenerative Dialogues
  • Discipline-Based Inquiry
  • Self-Evaluation, Self-Theories, and Developing an Understanding of the Nature of Learning
  • Making Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation Work in Your Class
  • Asking questions about what it is they are trying to learn.
  • Trying things out to see what happens.
  • Presenting new questions or interests.
  • Making connections between concepts either familiar or new and looking to the future.
  • Learning Agenda
  • Considering other/opposing perspectives.
  • Acknowledging their learning and valuing their shifting understanding.
  • References
  • CHAPTER 4: Vulnerability: A Metalogue
  • Vulnerability in the Classroom
  • Joe
  • Fear of Criticism
  • Judy
  • Making Space to Be Vulnerable
  • Joe
  • Students Engaging in Self-Assessment
  • Judy
  • Joe
  • Vulnerability as Shared Space
  • Judy
  • References
  • CHAPTER 5: The Conundrum of Self-Evaluation as Scientific Argument 61
  • Learning to Be Self Assessors
  • A Shared Vision of Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation?
  • Making Self-Assessment Explicit
  • This Protocol and Other Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation Models: Similarities and Differences
  • Self-Assessment or Self-Surveillance?
  • Discourses, Regimes of Truth, and Discipline Knowledge
  • Self-Evaluation Is Like a Scientific Argument
  • Self-Strategies for Evaluating Learning
  • Discourses of Self and Argumentation
  • References
  • CHAPTER 6: Ongoing Learning: Self-Assessment and Integrated Curriculum
  • Theoretical and Contextual Underpinnings
  • Final Thoughts
  • References
  • CHAPTER 7: Letting Go: A Personal Perspective of Using Self-Assessment and Self-Evaluation
  • Self-Assessment and Evaluation
  • The First Cards
  • Asking Questions about Assessment
  • How I Came to Find Self-Evaluation
  • Evaluating Self-Evaluation
  • References
  • CHAPTER 8: Articulate and Activate: An Approach to Self-Assessment in Theatre
  • Context
  • The Process
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • CHAPTER 9: Adopting and Adapting: Using Self-Evaluation in Teaching Graduate Psychology Students Psychological Assessment
  • Implementation of Self-Assessment as an Innovation
  • Learning to Be a Psychologist
  • The Context of Psychological Assessment
  • Modeling Self-Assessment
  • How Self-Evaluation Notes Are Useful
  • Self-Assessment and Learning to Communicate
  • Thinking about Self-Assessment
  • Integrity of Implementation
  • References
  • CHAPTER 10: Self-Assessment and Assessment for/as Learning
  • We Live in Interesting Times
  • References
  • Contributors
  • Index
  • Series Index

| vii →


So Why Self-Assessment?

Judith McVarish

Ours has been called The Age of Accountability. In education, the ways in which we have defined this arena have garnered terrific pressures on stakeholders and created an atmosphere of negativity and a truncated version of how education at all levels should best serve its constituents and how such results are best measured.

Both Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and new teacher certification requirements have a goal of helping teachers think deeply about what they teach, what the learning will look like if the objectives for the learning are met, and what evidence they have to prove whether or not learning has occurred.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed by leaders from the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers and are grounded in cognitive development theory about how learning progresses across grades and how college- and career-readiness emerge over time. Forty-five states, the District of Columbia, four territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity have adopted the Common Core State Standards. Teachers are expected to understand a student’s learning needs, check for misconceptions and to ← vii | viii → provide evidence of progress toward learning goals. One goal of the CCSS is to ensure that assessment and instruction ensure that all students, regardless of disability, language or subgroup status, have the opportunity to learn and to show what they know and can do.

The edTPA (AACTE, n.d.), a national performance assessment of readiness to teach, with a focus on student learning and principles from research and theory, expects successful teachers to “reflect on and analyze evidence of the effects of instruction on student learning.” Developed by Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) at the Stanford School of Education, and administered by Pearson Publishing, edTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) is complex and demanding and likely to have a consequential impact on many education programs in higher education beyond the certification of teachers. Its focus is on using a performance-based or “authentic” design for the assessment of teacher planning, instruction and assessment. Each subject area differentiated from the others through the use of different subject area handbooks that have a particular focus on how beginning teachers can demonstrate detailed knowledge of students, assessment of K-12 students (including examination of their work samples), teaching the language demands of curriculum tasks (in association with the CCSS), and the use of research- and/or theory-based methods. The embedded assessment tasks are used to judge the future impact of candidates’ teaching on student learning and the ways in which their analysis informs future planning for instruction. The commentaries candidates are being asked to write in order to pass these new performance assessments require a focused and well-written essay that describes what they learned about their teaching practice and the depth in which they are able to critically think about and analyze learning. These commentaries, along with video of teaching segments, will be evaluated to determine whether teacher candidates become certified as teachers.

The following is an example taken from one of the edTPA assessment task writing prompts:

Task 3: Assessing Students’ Literacy Learning

“How will you gather evidence and make sense of what students have learned?” ← viii | ix →

A central aspect of this task is the expectation that students applying for teacher certification understand the nature of evidence and have the capacity to apply this understanding to a claim about learning. As we grapple with the demands of the edTPA and CCSS, the self-assessment and self-evaluation model presented in the following chapters holds the potential to assist you, the university education professor, in supporting your pre-service teachers to understand and recognize what learning evidence really looks like. The ultimate goal is not limited to the short-sighted perspective of passing the certification exams, but reaches far beyond into their future classrooms. Teachers will be better teachers if their view of learning evidence is expansive and stretches beyond test scores alone as measures of knowing.

We play a blaming game. Teachers blame parents, administrators or policies such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Administrators make teachers or the government the guilty parties; and parents accuse teachers for not preparing their children for “the test.” Professors in schools of higher education are being accused of grade inflation, and those in schools of education are being pressured to prepare teachers for the data-driven classrooms in which their students will eventually find themselves.

We have created a continuous-loop roller coaster. When its momentum slows a bit we find an out-of-control acceleration around the next bend. It is time to press the stop button. We need a chance to assess where this roller coaster is headed, what ends it serves and how it might be most fruitfully controlled.

Thomas Friedman of the New York Times [September 9, 2012] wrote, “ The truth is that is you want a decent job that will lead to a decent life today, you have to work harder, regularly reinvent yourself, obtain at least some form of post secondary education, make sure that you’re engaged in lifelong learning and play by the rules.”

It seems impossible to argue that at every level of education we are consumed by teaching students to “play by the rules.” But these are outer-directed and essentially demeaning rules. Toward this, we pay major homage to a particular kind of testing, bolstered by a massive testing industry with millions if not billions at stake. For nearly all students, ← ix | x → testing has defined itself as an outer-directed process based on memorization, repeated drill, speed, superficial thinking, extrinsic incentives and stereotyping. Cheating has become a rampant art. Many if not most schools are not learning environments. They are test-prep centers.

What is sorely lacking in this picture is a desire—a passion—to engage students in “playing by the rules” in ways that serve them and society in far more productive ways. This can happen when students are engaged in lifelong learning, when instruction is meaningful to them, person centered, flexible, and, yes, productive in a multitude of facets including, of course, the learning of the information they need.

How can we move toward such a broad and complex vision? Not easy. But as Whitney Houston bolted out in song, “Step by step. Day by day.”

This book offers one such step with its focus on self-assessment in higher education. It presents the experiences of a group of professionals who have engaged their students in particular ways. For many of the authors, self-assessment has been the starting point in building more meaningful, more educative interactions as well as the impetus to refine and enrich those very processes going forward.


XIV, 154
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2010 (March)
psychology learning self-evaluation
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2014. 154 pp.

Biographical notes

Judith McVarish (Volume editor) Catherine Milne (Volume editor)

Judith McVarish is Associate Professor of Mathematics Education at St. John’s University and Chair of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. She is director of St. John’s In Addition After School Mathematics Program and author of Where’s the Wonder in Elementary Math? Encouraging Reasoning in the Classroom. Catherine Milne is Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at New York University. She runs a research program, Molecules & Minds, which is developing scaffolds for multimedia chemistry simulations. She is author of The Invention of Science and co-editor-in-chief for the journal, Cultural Studies of Science Education.


Title: Teacher Educators Rethink Self-Assessment in Higher Education
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
172 pages