Self Assessment and reflection tool

I have been working on a tool for students to do a self assessment/reflection and feedback. There are two version of the tool, though the difference is more in layout as the core content is the same.

The tool is based around the work of Stephen Dinham which is used by DET NSW and  New Zealand educators John Hattie & Helen Timperley.

Both works are created under the creative commons share and share-alike license. Acknowledgement is appreciated


Dinham S. May 2008. Feedback on feedback. Teacher, the national education magazine issue 191 Art 6. Australian Council for Edducational research (ACER)
Timperley,H. Hattie,J. 2007 The power of feedback. Review of educational Research p77-87

self assessment & feedback landscape self assessment & feedback

Examination time

Its that time of the year again when staff and schools roll out examinations as a way of assessing the students learning. Examinations are a useful tool in summative assessment, but of course they are not the only tool in the tool kit.

I have been thinking about the advice I give to staff about examinations to support them in making these assessments as useful and beneficial as possible.

My first question would be “do you need an examination? are there better ways of assessing the learning and development of the student?” the answer is invariably yes to both questions. Often we are required to use examination as a tool of assessment and yes there may be better ways but this is one of the ways we have been told to use.

The next piece of advice is this…

Write the examination and the mark scheme simultaneously.

To often we write a question and discover after its gone to print that its unanswerable, beyond the scope of learning, too simple, too hard or is not identifying the aspect of learning we wanted it to. If you can’t write the answer as you develop the question how are your students meant to.

Do my marking descriptors allow the students to achieve or have I written them in such a way to mean a student can only achieve in one way? Am I limiting the students to a low grade by the criteria I have written, is it a “they ahve to do this and this and this and this and this…..” and if they miss out on one point they have failed even if they show higher level understanding.

Does the question allow the student to show depth and extent of learning?

This obviously does not apply to multi-choice or bubble test questions, but does the question allow the student to demonstrate their depth and breadth of understanding to show a progression from…

Identify –> Outline –> Describe –> Explain –> Analyse –> Evaluate

Am I expecting the students to be multi-lingual?

Do my students have to understand two languages – the language of assessment and the language of my subject. How many of my students are lost before they have started because they do not understand the language of assessment.

If I was to ask what is the difference between describe and explain would they know? My students are provided with definitions of the assessment terms on the cover of their examination –

  • Outline – give a brief account;
  • Describe – give a detailed account;  
  • Explain – give a detailed account including causes, reasons or mechanisms.
  • and so on

Are the questions structured and balanced?

is there an appropriate balance between lower order thinking and higher order thinking in the number of questions.

Lower order command terms Higher order command terms
state, list, outline, describe, explain, annotate, define, calculate evaluate, analyse, judge, critique, compare, contrast, formulate, construct, discuss, justify, to what extent

I ask my colleagues to proof my examination.
I ask them to please ask these questions as they are working through the examinations.
•    Does it make sense?
•    Does it suit the audience?
•    Does it flow from lower order to higher order questions? from topic to topic?
•    What is the purpose of the task, question or instruction? Does it show the learning outcomes?
•    Does the weighting match the complexity of the task?
•    Is it achievable? allow the students to show excellence?
•    Is the examination manageable and realistic for the time frame?
•   Is the coverage of the examination suitable in terms of the students learning


On the wire – feedback, apps and more

In this update of on the wire I have a couple of interesting articles and the odd infographic to share

1. BBC Future – Why your brain loves to get feedback – An interesting article on the importance of feedback. This supports the research from Professor John Hattie in his book Visual Learning about the importance of feedback (not that I think Hattie’s work needed further support –

2. Free Stock Photos – There are some excellent sites that will provide you with access to good quality stock photography for free. Here are a couple to check out

3. On a lighter note – Paper is Not Dead. This video about the iPad and paper is doing the rounds at the moment, and it makes a valuable as well as humorous point that is worth considering. technology isn’t a replacements for traditional approaches to activities, its an alternative. We need to consider the best tool for the job.

paper is not dead

4. Virtual Tours from Mountain peaks and Base camps –

This is an article from the NZ Herald that contains a number of virtual tours of mountain peaks and base camps. Here is the link to the blog post by the adventurer who created the tours –

and finally an infographic on apps and the impact these are having –

End of unit review – What do you think?

I am working on an end of unit review that I want to use with all of the teachers in my faculty. The purpose of the review is multiple:

  • I would like the students to give us feedback on the unit of learning they have just undertaken
  • Assessment and learning objectives should be clear and transparent, again I would like feedback on this
  • Teaching and learning should be purposeful and deliberate
  • The students workload and the level of challenge in their learning needs to be appriopriate
  • learning should be engaging, motivating and have logical structure and flow.

I would appreciate feedback on this review tool (download the PDF file here End of Unit Review Questions)

Starter Sheet – the reflective cycle using a blogs

This is the next in the assessment series – this use a blog as the medium for a student applying the reflective cycle to reflect on an event.

The reflective cycle has 5 stages –

  1. Select an event
  2. describe the event – what, where, when and who
  3. Analyse the event – break it down into the component elements and as the How and why questions
  4. Evaluate the event – make a judgement having considered the impact, importance, effectiveness and relationships
  5. Transform – make a change based on the process

This can be used in a wide range of situations whether it is a student reflecting on their learning and contribution, a students posting a comment on a peers blog and using the cycle to offer critique and comment or a student reflecting on the events of the day.

Starter sheet reflection cycle in a blog post

As always comments are appreciated

For the complete set of starter sheets visit the education origami wiki –


educational origami wiki

Starter Sheet -Providing Feedback in Google Documents

This is the next starter sheet in the set I am working on for providing technology tools for feedback.

In this starter sheet, its looking at the tool set available in Google documents to provide feedback, critiques and correction. The tools include the revision history tool and using the comments tools to have a threaded discussion with the contributors. Google documents is a powerful and adaptable tool that is easily accessible in most parts of the world, from almost all devices.

starter sheet – google documents – feedback

As always I would appreciate your feedback. Check out the other starter sheets here –

Ladder of Feedback – Student unit review

The Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project  Zero team has developed a useful tool for providing feedback. The tool is intended for a colleague or peer to provide feedback to a teaching peer about either their lesson, unit or potentially course of learning.

I have been working on assessment for some presentation I have coming up and this is a potentially useful tool for providing structured and considered feedback. As teachers we know the value of providing feedback and critique to our students, but we sometimes struggle with receiving feedback ourselves. I have adapted the ladder of feedback tool to suit student feedback on a unit of learning.

Ladder of feedback template

The Original  Ladder of feedback has four steps or phases. They are:

  1. Clarify – are there aspects of this lesson, unit course that you don’t believe you understood?
  2. Value – what do you see in this lesson, unit or course that you find to be particularly impressive, innovative or strong?
  3. Offer Concerns – Do you detect some potential problems or challenges within this lesson, unit or course? Do you disagree with some part of the design
  4. Suggest – Do you have suggestions on how to address the concerns you identified during the last step?

In some ways it resembles a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis, how ever the arrangement is more education focused and is far more usable.


Starter Sheet – Comments tools in Adobe Acrobat pro

This is the next starter sheet focusing on how to use comment tools for formative assessment. In this example the range of tools available in the product allow the reviewer to add audio comments, text based comment and well as a range of drawing tools.

Being able to add notes to PDF is a powerful tool in the teachers tool kit. Most students can produce a PDF either natively within the application (This a standard in most Apple applications, adobe products and also some Microsoft tools as well) or using a plug in like CutePDF . The advantages for the student is they don’t have to worry about the layout of their work being changed or compatibility with the teachers software. For the teacher, they can annotate the document and share the changes with the students quickly and easily.

As always feedback is welcomed.

starter sheet – adobe acrobat reader Review


Starter Sheet – Review tools in MS Word

I am developing some resources for feedback and assessment for a couple of presentations in an doing. One of the tools that I want to use with staff for providing feedback is the review tools in MS Word.

These allow the reviewer to make comments, corrections and suggestions with the learner. These are a great way to start the learning conversations and provide feedback that is:

  • timely
  • appropriate
  • honest and supportive
  • enabling

I would appreciate any feedback on this starter sheets. More to follow.

starter sheet – MS Word Review

Examinations, assessment and feedback

My students have just finished their preliminary school examinations before they do the major external final examinations. We have students do prelim exams for a number of reasons:

  • as summative assessment that tells the student where they are in their learning at one particular time.-Assessment that summarizes the development of the student at a particular time. What the student knows or doesn’t know
  • to prepare them for examinations and to develop appropriate examination technique
  • to provide formative feedback that identifies areas of strength and weakness in their understanding and application of the course of learning – Assessment that is interpreted and used to give directions or make decisions about next steps in learning process

For me the formative aspect of the examinations is the most important, it is assessment for learning. To make an examination useful we have to be able to give our students strong formative feedback. Hattie in his book Visible learning, identifies the importance and power of timely, effective, learning focus feedback.

So what is strong feedback? Dr Jodie Nyquist has a model that I really like for this and I have blogged it before

So the strongest and most effective formative feedback comes when the students have knowledge of their results, knowledge of the correct results, an explanation as to why the results are correct and an immediate activity to reinforce this.

A Recent publication from DET in Australia on feedback provides a nice framework that matches with Jodie Nyquist’s model.

Step 1INFORMATION about what happened or was done
Nyquist – Knowledge of results and Knowledge of correct results
Step 2An EVALUATION of how well or otherwise the action or task was performed
Nyquist – Explanation
Step 3GUIDANCE as to how the performance can be improved
Nyquist – Specific actions to reduce the gap and activity

Based on Modified and adapted from

The outcome of an assessment, be it an examination, test or assignment should be an improvement in learning. To maximise the learning opportunities we need to provide them, our learners, with feedback on what they did, an evaluation of the task and feed forward what they can do in the future.