Reflection and self assessment
What can you do to help you produce a better-finished product?
How can you gain useful criticism without asking your teacher? How will this be useful?
What can you do to after gaining criticism to help you produce a complete finished
Definition: reflection and self assessment means being able to assess what you feel are
strong points in a lesson, or work, as well as the weak points and being able to receive
feedback that will be useful on revising what went poorly.
Rationale: effective educators are reflective practitioners who demonstrate a
commitment to professional standards and are continuously engaged in purposeful
mastery of the art and practice of teaching.
Reflection and self assessment
Definition: collecting data means finding information that will be useful to you. Data can
include; research, rubrics, test scores, essays, journals, notes, statistics, etc. The data
collected will be beneficial to your lesson, your grading, and your work.
1. Learning journals
Learning journals are used to collect important data from a lesson or a lecture and
record it so you have it for further reference.
2. Writing journals
Writing journals are used to write down thoughts, information, and important
information that will be useful later.
3. Reading journals
Reading journals are used to record important information that is gather while
reading. Reading journals help with deep reading and further understanding of
what is being read.
An overview of learning journals.
An overview of writing journal including writing journal prompts.
An overview of reading journals.
Students' Service-Learning Journals
A Short, Basic Summary For Service-Learners
Reprinted from Service-Learning: A Guide for College Students,
ACTION, 1979, p 43.
The learning that you’re doing in the community requires time for reflection so you can
take a look at what you’re learning, relate it to yourself and generalize from it to other
experiences. Reflection is an essential part of "experiential learning" - learning from
There are several ways of reflection on your experience that can be useful to you in
service-learning; hopefully you will use these tools and possibly others as well:
1. Keep a journal of the experience
2. Regular meetings with supervisor and faculty advisor
3. Interaction with other service-learners
Keeping a Journal
One useful way of keeping track of what you’re learning and the kind of service you are
providing is to keep a personal journal or log of your activities. Keeping a journal may, in
fact, be required for field experiences directly related to course work.
Whether a personal journal is required or not, it’s a good idea to keep one. It causes you
to think about your experiences and can help give you insight into what you are
experiencing and how you are feeling about it. Your journal can also give you a useful
record of your service and learning.
To be most effective for you, the journal should not be merely a log of events. It should
be a way for you to analyze the activities you are performing and the new things you’re
learning. Reflecting in your journal allows you to recognize and think about important
events and to relate your service-learning objectives to what you are doing.
Making Journal Entries
Make daily entries in your journal, if possible.
1. Write an objective account of the daily events that occur. Try to remember everything
that happens. Don’t make any inferences, just write the facts.
2. Describe your feelings and perceptions about what happened during the day - about
your behavior and the behavior of others. This is your subjective account of the day.
3. Look back at your service-learning agreement and reflect on how the day’s events
relate to your service learning objectives. Are your learning objectives still appropriate?
Maybe a concept in a class came alive for you out in the field, or maybe you’d like to test
a theory the next time you go to your service-learning site.
4. Finally, while you have the day’s events fresh in your mind, outline actions for your
next contact based on what you feel you learned during the day or any problems or needs
that have surfaced. Use your log as an "agenda - setting" tool.
You might format these four kinds of information as follows:
Daily Entries Perceptions Generalizations Action
By using columns, you can add to the journal in the appropriate place as more
information and experience come into play. For example, in the "Daily Events" column
you may note some interesting behavior by a small child. Two weeks later in a Child
Growth and Development class you may be introduced to some developmental theories
that explain the child’s behavior. Then you can easily go back to your journal to note the
linkage between the "Daily Events" observation and "Generalizations" that can be made.
Generalizations might also be initiated by a lecture, something you’ve read, a television
program, conversation over a meal or lying awake in bed staring at the ceiling.
Journaling Tips and Prompts for writing journals
These tips were contributed by readers of my Webseed Site Journalwriters. If you have a
tip you'd like to add, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"My Journaling Basket I would have a wicker basket with a handle loaded with colored
gel pens, stickers, journaling books, colored art pencils, and my journals (I have at least
five going at a time). My journaling basket and I would be in the perfect sand on a perfect
beach on any sort of a day...perfect or not. " -- Joyce
"My journaling tip for the contest: I keep some index cards in my journal so that I can
write down what I'm writing about in case I'm interrupted. When I go back to my journal,
the short notations I've made jog my memory so I can continue writing where I left off." -
- Carol Alaniz of Ecorse
"This is my favorite prompt to jumpstart my journal writing: I read this quote by Samuel
Cohen : "Bagel, sun, coffee, a friend... and then some solitude are the flowers of my
morning." then I ask myself what were the flowers of my day and I write about them." --
"One of my favorite writing prompts is taking a quotation that I really disagree with and I
can really take off." -- Jean Hughes of Atlanta
"Here is my favorite journaling prompt: If you wrote a letter to yourself that you would
read in twenty years, what would you want to tell yourself?" -- Leslie DeHart of
"I find that if you keep a few notebooks to journal in your mind is better able to release
it's thought. I have my nosey friends can read this notebook journal. I have a password
one for all the thoughts that I wouldn't dare to share with everyone. Finally, I have a
notebook that I carry with me so that I can jot things down when I am forced to wait
some where." -- Kattie Hogan
"June Journal Contest - Journal Prompt Make a list of all the things that you are, starting
with the very basic and then ending with as much detail as possible. Example: Child of
God, Homo Sapien, Female, Daughter of (parent’s names), Spouse to (spouse's name),
Writer, Sister, Friend, etc. This is to help remind you of all the things you are, and help
you to stop focusing on all the things you aren't." -- Kathleen Greene of Houston
"My favorite journaling prompt is my "picture file". Any magazine that I buy, I cut out all
the great photographs that appeal to me, and put them into a file. When I need some
inspiration, I just start going through the pictures until one of them inspires me to write.
Great website, keep up the good work!" -- Anita of Pratt
"My favorite "prompt" is to observe my surroundings and write descriptions of where I
am, how I'm feeling, and what's currently happening. Even if it's something kind of
mundane, I challenge myself to make it seem interesting on paper. (A good example of
this is "'Love' In A Library", under "Bursts of Expression" at my site:
http://www.suite101.com/myhome.cfm/JHImaginations)" -- Jenny Higgins
"In my window, I see..." -- Keri
"Dig out those old pictures -- of YOU -- at various ages and stages! Were you smiling?
Are pleasant memories conjured up by the image? Do you see the "real" you in this
photo? How far away are you today from the person in that photo? Are those your "good
old days"? A recent search for photos of my parents ... their wedding in particular (to give
to my daughters) ... brought an unexpected flood of memories as I rummaged through the
boxes and saw myself ~ infant and toddler, in kindergarten, eighth grade, high school,
prom ... ad infinitum! Journaling/scrapbooking/memoir treasures! " -- Gloria of Lake
"Prompt Contribution: What is the purpose of change in your life? How do you tend to
react to change? " -- NJHeart2Heart
"I was travelling on a bus one day when the driver refused to stop for an old lady who
wanted to get on. My friend and I watched her as she walked, with a stick, as fast as she
was able, waving to him to stop, all whilst trying to find a safe place to cross the road to
the bus stop. I will never forget the look of sheer dismay on her face as the bus pulled
away without her. What have you seen that you will never forget? Who did you meet
today?" -- Romany of Stoke on Trent
"Think of the four elements -- earth, wind, fire, and water. Describe yourself as one of the
elements and list all the attributes of you and the element. " -- Sue
"If you could spend a day in conversation with one person, living or dead, who would it
be? What would you talk about?" -- Margaret H. Knorr of Charleston
"I have always wanted to.........." -- Valerie Bongards of Potsdam
"If you could travel back to your childhood, as the adult you are now, and meet your
childhood self, what age would that child be and what would you say or do with your
child self? Or would you rather not make the trip? " -- Trisha a.k.a. Floradora
"Freewrite about your worst fear. Set a timer for ten minutes and do not lift your pen
from the paper until it goes off." -- Journal Writers
" Draw up a list of things that make you happy. (This is an ongoing project.) Your list can
be of things as large as your marriage or children or surviving cancer and finding
strength, or as small as the yawn of a cat. Focus on HAPPY for this list. This can be a
series of prompts for those days when you feel blank. " -- Nan
"If I could, I would..." -- Journal Writers
"What scares you? Explore your fears in a journal entry. Start with the sentence "I'm
afraid..." It doesn't have to be something we consider traditionally frightening, like snakes
or spiders." -- Journal Writers
"Take the time to notice one small detail in nature. Study a flower, leave, tree trunk,
movement of a bird, etc. Write your observations in your journal. Often we are too busy
with the big picture to enjoy the small beauties in life." -- Dorene Davis
"I want to make tomorrow...." -- Journal Writers
Keeping Reading Journals
The reading journal asks that students express in writing their own personal interests and
insights and build on the skills they already intuitively possess: the ability to observe, to
listen, to take notes, to reflect on their notes, and to ask questions that are borne out of a
sense of genuine curiosity.
Liken the reading journal to a fieldwork journal. Moving from the assumption that, for
the anthropologist, wherever you are is a potential site for fieldwork, you can encourage
students to use texts as fieldwork sites by keeping journal and pen handy whenever they
read from their texts, copying down interesting passages, freewriting responses to
particular sections, and raising questions. These notes will be invaluable when students
move on to writing analytical, research, or literary interpretation essays.
Giving students space and encouragement to record their personal thoughts and reactions
to the reading can also free students up to locate their own specific points of engagement
with the text -- even, or especially, if they initially react to the text negatively.
These suggestions are directed toward reading literary texts in particular, but you can
apply them to other kinds of texts. You might ask students to include the following kinds
of notes in their journals, adapted, of course, to the particular text they are reading or to
the particular kinds of assignments surrounding the reading of the text:
1. Personal thoughts and reactions
Try not to censure your reactions to the text but to include more than "I liked (or hated)"
type of statements. Be reflective; think about why you may be responding the way you
are. Leave room for recording later reflections on the same topic/event/character. One
way to do this is to take notes on the left hand page of notebook and reserve the right-
hand page for later additions, comments, questions, and so on.
2. Comments and questions on plot, narrative structure, point of view,
characterization, or setting
Refer to the following kinds of questions to help guide your responses:
Plot: What is the main conflict? What are the minor conflicts? How are all the
conflicts related? What causes the conflicts? Where does the climax occur, if
there is one? Why? How is the main conflict resolved? Which conflicts go
Narrative Structure: How does the story move? What kind of narrative device is
employed to move the plot? That is, are the characters on a journal through
geographic space? Does the narrative move chronologically? Etc. How does this
structure seem to reflect or comment on others elements (i.e. characters and
themes) in the text?
Point of view: Who tells the story? Can you trust the narrator to tell you the truth
about events, characters, and settings of the story? Why has the author chosen this
point of view? What effects does it have on other elements of the story?
Characterization: How are the characters portrayed? Are they flat, round,
dynamic, static? Do they change? How and why do they change? What do they
learn? What problems do they have? Do they have traits that contradict one
another and therefore cause internal conflicts? Do they experience epiphanies?
How or what? How do they relate to each other? Etc.
Setting: Where does the action take place? (Think not only about geographic
location but also physical space: indoors, outdoors, small rooms, palatial homes,
etc.) What does it look like, sound like, feel like? What relationship does place
have to characterization, the plot, themes, and the narrative structure? At what
period in history does the action take place?
Many of these questions about elements of fiction come from Griffith, Kelley. Writing
Essays about Literature: A Guide and Style Sheet, 5th edition. Fort Worth: Harcourt
Brace College Publishers, 1998.
3. Observations on context
Record your observations and questions about the locations or the historical period
depicted in this text. As you read pay attention to and take notes on what you "observe"
about such things as:
interior and exterior space (architecture, the city/countryside)
social class and social mobility
social control, discipline and ideology
In your note-taking, when jotting down short quotations and paraphrases remember to
cite page numbers. You will undoubtedly use some of these later when writing essays.
(Indeed, your notes can even help you to choose a topic or a research question.)
4. Library research notes
You may have many questions about the text (and a specific research topic that will come
out of the text) that the text, as a primary source, will not answer. Thus, you may be
researching primary and secondary historical materials to help deepen your understanding
about the context within which the work takes place. You may compile your notes and
bibliography in your reading journal throughout your reading/researching process.
Putting Reading Journals to Use in Class
Directed Freewrites: You may allot time prior to each class discussion for
freewriting on a particular passage, character, scene, and question for analysis,
etc. This is often a good way to stimulate class discussion and gives students
practice in writing short analyses and reflections to which they can refer back.
Journal Swap: This can be an alternative to class discussion that gets all students
participating and that gives them practice in sharing their writing, on a relatively
informal basis, with their peers. Ask students to draw a line down the center of a
page in their journals and to freewrite a response to a particular passage, scene,
character, etc. on the left side of the line. (They may do this either during, or prior
to, class.) Next, have students pass their journals to the person next to them. Each
person should then respond to his or her peer's freewrite with his or her own
freewrite. There are many variations on this exercise. For example, you may ask
students to pose a question in their own journals. They will pass them on to
receive a partner's written engagement with their question. You may want
students to pass their journals on several times in order to have many different
voices participating in their journals.
I notice, I wonder statements: Use these two phrases to prompt students to
articulate their unique interests, questions, speculations that often lead to paper
topics. You might ask students to write two sentences in their journal at various
points in reading a text: the first, beginning with "I notice," the second, with "I
wonder." This can work well in combination with the journal swap wherein peers
can respond with their own speculations. "I noticed this too, but I wondered if ...."
Or "I didn't notice that, but I did notice this related thing. Like you, I wonder if...."
Individual/Affective Responses: Because students, like all readers, will
inevitably have their immediate personal and emotional responses to a text, you
can put them to productive use rather than avoiding or trying to silence them in
the service of more "serious" or "analytical" responses. In fact, their initial
emotional responses can often provide them with valuable insights if they can
apply them critically. Again, ask students to draw a line down the center of a page
in their journals. On the left side, ask them to record their immediate emotional
response to the text, being as specific as they can. That is, they cannot just say, "I
hated this." Encourage them to describe their reaction as vividly as possible (i.e.
"This novel really made me feel uncomfortable, like I was wandering around
someplace I where I didn't want to be.") When they are finished recording their
reactions (give them about five to seven minutes), ask them to exchange journals
with a partner. Next, ask them to read their partners' responses to the text and in
the right hand column write their own responses. They should not simply agree or
disagree with their partner; instead ask them to think about what specifically from
the text may have evoked such a response. They should, thus, refer to specific
passages prefacing their comments only with "I notice?" and "I wonder?" (For
example, "I noticed that the first thing the narrator does is 'take a leak' in the
bushes.' I wonder if this is why you felt uncomfortable.")
Reflection and self assessment
Definition: peer assessment means gaining feedback from fellow students instead of the
professor. Peer assessment is a way for a student to gain useful criticism from other
students to help them come to a better understanding of the work.
Oral peer assessment is used to give a fellow student your beneficial insight and
criticism about their work during a private discussion, or a small group
Written peer assessment is also used to give a fellow student your insights and
criticism about their work but this is written, usually on their paper, and not
discussed. This way, the student can take the information and use it at a later date
for revision because your notes a written on the work.
An overview of peer assessment.
An overview of peer feedback and peer assessment.
An article on peer assessment.
Tips and Suggestions
Open the assessment criteria for discussion among all students before they conduct their
assessment. What does each criterion and level of performance mean? Encourage
students to invent examples of work which meets/ does not meet these criteria, then open
up for discussion. Give past examples but ask students to critically analyze your choice.
Give past examples of student work and ask the students if these are relevant to the
assessment criteria. Get students to assess this previous work according to the levels of
performance. Follow by free discussion, listening to your students and contributing your
ideas. The same strategies can be applied with students demonstrating work practice
Similarly, outline the process of assessment in advance and open up for clarification and
review. Address students concerns and suggestions before implementation.
During and after the self/ peer assessment seek students’ comments making
improvements to maximize the prospect of your students seeing and experiencing the
validity of the approach.
In many situations these processes could be conducted as online discussions, attaching
documents to messages or using CourseInfo. Examples of previous written and digitized
audio-graphic assessments can be presented online with annotations.
Discussing and suggesting improvements to others’ work;
Reflecting on improvements they could implement themselves; and
Discussing in-groups before collectively providing a grade and feedback.
Student criticisms of self and peer assessment include the opportunity for personal
bias - the approach is seen to lack objectivity. Indeed, some may see assessment as
the teachers’ role not theirs.
Students commonly report that assessing their own work or that of their peers can:
Be personally motivating;
Help their learning (for example by comparing analyses, creative ideas and approaches to
Help them understand the assessment process.
While at heart self and peer assessment involves students taking responsibility for
monitoring and making judgements about aspects of their own or peer’s learning, it
promises so much more. Students can develop lifelong evaluation skills both about their
own work and thinking as well as others. They can take their first steps towards
independent and autonomous learning by developing learning strategies based on their
evaluations. They learn directly by constructively critiquing their own and others’ work
Simple examples include students:
Commenting on final or draft essays or project reports;
Anonymously or publicly grading colleagues’ presentations;
Proposing their own grade with reasons after seeing others’ work;
So a few key general issues facing self and peer assessment are:
Helping students see the value and validity of the approach to assessment (‘face
Sharing understanding of assessment criteria;
Ensuring validity and reliability of students’ judgements;
Maximizing opportunities for students to learn from self and peer assessment;
Assisting students to provide constructive feedback
Reflection and self assessment
Definition: taking action means being able to take your collected data, your criticism,
and all other important information and recreating your paper, lesson plan, etc. using
what you have learned from reading through your data, criticism, etc. Taking action also
means being able to revise work to produce a better product using the data you obtained.
1. Life vision portfolio
This is a portfolio that maps out the achievements a person desires to accomplish
during their life.
2. Establishing long term goals
This is a method to set goals that will span over a period of a few years, like a
high school career, or a one-year period.
3. Monthly/weekly organizers or daily checklists
This is used to organize the next few days to ensure that everything that needs to
be done will be completed in an appropriate amount of time. Daily checklists are
used to check of what has been accomplished and what has yet to be done.
Various examples of time management planners.
Examples of different checklists.
An article on setting goals.
The Harris County Board of Education recognizes the importance of strategic, long-range
planning which should occur in addition to short-term benchmarking and annual goals.
Described below is the goal-setting model that is used by the Harris County Board of
Education to ensure that all stakeholders are aware of the direction in which the Board is
leading the school system and to outline the procedure for both long-term and short-term
1. Strategic Planning – At five year intervals the Harris County Board of
Education develops a strategic plan. To receive input from each school site and
central office personnel, the Board of Education organizes a steering committee
that consists of two representatives from the Board of Education, the
Superintendent, the Assistant Superintendents, Personnel Coordinator, Special
Education and Federal Programs Director, Principals, and Teachers from each
school. A trained facilitator is employed by the system to assist the steering
committee in developing the plan. The steering committee meets once a month for
seven months to create a plan that includes a mission statement, belief statements,
strategic directions, and strategic objectives for the upcoming five-year period.
The plan also identifies specific activities, the person responsible for the activity,
the time frame, the constraints/enablers and the cost of implementation.
To solicit input from the community, each member of the Board of Education
selects one constituent from his/her district to serve on a Community Action
Committee. Periodically throughout the Strategic Planning Process, this
committee meets to review the work of the Strategic Planning Steering
Committee and to offer input into the process.
2. Annual Goals and Benchmarks – In the Spring of each year the Harris County
Board of Education meets in a retreat setting to receive a report of the progress
made on the goals developed during the Strategic Planning Process. At this
retreat, the Board also reviews the following:
a. strengths and weaknesses of the school system,
b. compelling problems and emerging issues,
c. trends, opportunities and anticipated challenges,
d. and completes its self-assessment of board activities and operations.
This retreat results in the development of annual goals for the upcoming school
year complete with benchmarks of progress to be met for that year.
3. Site-Based School Improvement Plans – Each school in Harris County receives
copies of the five-year Strategic Plan and a copy of the Annual Goals and Objectives.
Using these documents as guides, the individual schools review and revise their site-
based school improvement plans. The School Council, whose membership includes
parents and business partners, provides input and assists in developing the site-level
4. Continuous Improvement – This model of goal setting involves all stakeholders in
the development of the Strategic Plan. Each school council provides the Board of
Education with an Annual Report outlining the issues addressed during the past year.
Using information from this annual report, in addition to information concerning student
achievement results, transportation, facility needs, maintenance, and technology, the
Board is able to set the Annual goals and benchmarks. This model provides the structure
for continuous improvement and allows communication to flow to all stakeholders.