How To Self-Evaluate Your Own Learning.
When it comes to the evaluation or examination how much we have learnt over a period of time, most students believe it is the function or in the hands of another individual, say one’s teacher or even one’s mentor. Of course, this is quite right when there is a prize to be won. But in all other circumstances, you lose a very valuable narrative, the chance to create your own learning narrative. This simply means that, for students, in the near future when you look back on your educational journey, you only remember the courses you either excelled or failed in – per the examination or assessment of your lectures. The narrative will then rather be one of many parts instead of a whole long thread.
In the long run, when these students enter the labor market, there are complaints by their employers as to their brilliance. There will be difficulty reconciling what is on paper – certificates – with what they actually see. Only certain stand out topics or principles or rules will be well-retained by the students, the larger parts of their course of study will have to be remembered when textbooks are reopened. This is as a result of the assessment technique employed by lecturers in school. The end of the term/semester examination as opposed to encouraging self-assessments which are better techniques that help with retention.
Students learn bits from here and there, using highlighters, sticky notes and the likes to put down only the necessary points to pass the assessments. As such, these memories do not build on one another to become a whole, they are scattered in different parts, making it a very difficult process to retain over the years. However, when you assess your progress yourself, learning becomes fluid-like, with every part connected, becoming whole even with years gap between their learnings.
Here is Why Evaluating Your Own Learning is Good for the Brain.
Research has been carried out regarding how best it is for the brain to retain and embed new lessons learnt as well as memories made into already existing ones. One technique has been confirmed by these different experiments, Self-Evaluation, or could be called Reflection.
Upon learning something new, when the brain is allowed rest while the students reflect on the lessons, it has shown that there is not only an impact in the retention of the lessons learnt but also on memories/lessons to come. Simply put, the research carried out by Margaret Schlichting and Alison Preston showed that when you learn a new thing, the brain brings to mind all the existing knowledge that are related to that new piece of information and embed them making them ‘whole’.
Another research conducted by researchers at HEC Paris, Harvard Business School and the University of North Carolina showed that when one reflects upon a just concluded lesson, his/her performance increases the next time they return to it. With this, the brain is improved and boosts the retention of such memory, even if the pieces of the memory where information gotten across years, say during the university.
Five Ways Self-Evaluation Can Help Learning
1. Interpreting: How long did it take to learn something new? Is the one hour lesson enough? Students need to interpret their learning process. It then helps them know the patterns and/or habits that work well for them to attain their full retention capacity.
2. Organizing: If you are asked to find a book in your teacher’s bookshelf, bet it would take you a long while (if you ever find it) as opposed to you getting a textbook in your own bookshelf.
This is because of the individual way we all organize our stuff. It is the same way with learning. You have to mentally organize concepts in a way that will be easy for you to access when needed. This is done during self-evaluation or reflection.
3. Connecting: You might remember a joke told in class, which reminds you of the question that led to the joke, which then brings the answer given to mind. That is what connection is all about. However, these connections are made while assessing/evaluating your own learning.
4. Guiding: when reflecting, you know what you have learnt, what you are yet to learn as well as what you will love to learn. With this comes an idea of how to guide your learning and maximize available time.
5. Retaining: the more you reflect on or use memories made, lessons learnt, the more we remember it, especially when we need it. It is the same way it is basically effortless to say or spell your name when asked.
It is also the way a lecturer that has been taking a course for years can successfully teach it to you with no materials or textbook on him. This is because of the constant use and review.
Ten Musts of Self-Evaluation
These are the things you must do to ensure that the expected results are gotten when one assesses oneself.
1. Note the things you know and the things you don’t.
This can be done at any time – after a lecture or examination. Retaining information after merely passively absorbing it fails most of the time even though at that moment, it would seem unforgettable.
2. Check the notes taken against what you remember.
Check to see that the amount of notes you took down and the amount of what you remember when taking tests correlate. If it doesn’t, change your note-taking styles. Record the lecture on tape and write notes later. Like this, you can rewind and listen multiple times and take fuller notes.
3. Test yourself often and differently
This will help you know the things you remember. And, the more you do it, daily or weekly, the more you eventually know and remember about it. As well, try tutoring a friend on it, teach it to yourself in the mirror, and do this in different formats.
4. Check your retention over a span of time.
To retain information for a very long time, as long as humanly possible (or close), you need to review it from time to time. Not only when semester examinations or class quizzes are coming.
5. Take note of your interest level.
Usually, you excel in courses that interest you while you struggle with the ones that do not. However, when this doesn’t happen or reverse is the case, it is often not because of the interest but because of some other things which you must then try to identify and find solutions to,
6. Test how able you are in relaying information to others.
If you cannot successfully teach a concept to another person, to his understanding, you do not really know it and definitely haven’t learnt it.
7. Make connections between new and old knowledge.
Connect the new things you learn with prior knowledge you have in a way that can help you remember both without much fuss.
8. Try recalling out of context.
This means trying to recall materials about a subject while faced or in context of another. Example is showing flashcards from different subjects in a single session, randomly unrelated materials.
9. Personalize your progress
Grades and scores do not really define progress, at least, not in your own personal way. They mainly serve as means by which your teacher knows that you are ready for the next level. To really learn, you have to make your progress more personal.
10. Check study habits against results obtained.
If learning results are bad, it means the study habit you have inculcated is not the right one for you and thus needs to be changed. Yes, it might have worked for your friend, but we are all different, change it. A very good example is that some students study at night while others study during the day but both pass. Different styles, different people, find what works well for you.