One of the major main points of emphasis for educators applying the principles of Choice Theory in the classroom is helping students learn how to self-evaluate consciously and effectively. If we want students to take greater responsibility for their learning, it’s essential that they routinely evaluate their own work rather than simply handing it to the teacher to be graded. Simply turning in work with little thought does nothing to build responsibility. Plus, it’s unnecessarily burdensome for the teacher. Teaching students to self-evaluate will save educators precious time while equipping their students with a valuable tool.
The quality of our self-evaluation is directly related to the quality of the information we have available to us. Asking a student to self-evaluate without giving a clear picture of what high quality looks like or sounds like is likely to fail. We need a clearly identified target to evaluate how well we are doing. It is for this reason that I emphasize the importance of using rubrics and giving students examples of what quality looks like. By giving them high quality information, they are in a position to self-evaluate in a way that will likely lead to better performance.
A couple of weeks ago I delivered a keynote presentation at the Systems Change Conference in Chamberlain, South Dakota. After my session, someone asked me if rubrics could, in fact, stifle creativity. What a great question and what an important issue to be mindful of. There are undoubtedly situations where providing a narrowly structured rubric may be counterproductive and stifle creativity. Skilled teachers should know ahead of time what it is they want from their students. There will be times when a precise, defined rubric will give students useful information. At other times teachers may be more interested in having students develop creativity and think “outside the box.” In those situations, rubrics would look different to facilitate the creative thinking the teacher is hoping to foster. As I told the participant in South Dakota who asked me this question, I believe rubrics can help us self-evaluate effectively provided they are created with your teaching objective in mind. It’s essential to create rubrics that support what we are trying to teach and be certain they don’t unintentionally undermine the creative process.