Self & Peer Assessment

I’m Somebody & So Are You!

The ‘Human Connection’ in Education:
Teaching Tools for Character & Academic I.Q. Growth:
III Self & Peer Assessment

By Vera Ripp Hirschhorn, M.S.

Contact for professional development & teacher training workshops

“O the joy of that vast elemental sympathy which only the human soul is capable of generating and emitting in steady and limitless floods”
Walt Whitman

  • “What joy will I give myself today? What joy will I give another? What joy will I receive from another?”
  • a)“How have I contributed my ‘uniqueness,’ my talents/skills/interests/hobbies to the classroom discussion(s), project(s), assignment(s) and/or community?”
    b)”How have I embraced my ‘perfect imperfections;

    that is, my weaknesses as well as my strengths?

  • “With awareness of feelings, how have I expressed acceptance, empathy, compassion/caring for myself and someone else today?”
  • “Have I identified my passion? How can I share it for my benefit and/or the benefit of others?
  • a)“With awareness and acceptance, how have I resolved some underlying issues of anger or fear of rejection or fear of criticism with positive thoughts and positive action?”
  • a)”Did I contribute to ‘harmony or disharmony in my interactions with peers or others?”
    b)”Did I contribute to ‘inclusiveness or ‘exclusiveness? How?
  • “Have I become aware of my needs for relaxation when stressed and asked for help to release tension in a health way? (breathing techniques, meditation, prayer, yoga, exercise)”

Self and peer Assessment of character attributes and emotional intelligence revealed through questionnaires might be one of the most meaningful and rewarding tools in the “human connection in education.” They can be an asset in the evaluation of personal student growth and achievement as well as teacher accountability.

The above-mentioned questions are based on some of the ‘hero activities’ in Teens Are Heroes, Too! Challenges, Choices & Character:

  • My Uniqueness’
  • ‘My Hero Checklist’
  • ‘Talents/Skills Survey & Hobbies/Interests Survey’
  • ‘Self-Evaluation: What’s Bugging You?’
  • ‘Peer Identification Questionnaire’
  • ‘My Learning Style Survey’
  • ‘My feelings.’

These activities were intended to inspire students:

1.To identify their innate heroic attributes

2.To identify their unique mental, emotional, physical, spiritual intelligences such as the discovery of one’s meaning in life.

3.To increase

  • Self-awareness and positive self-expression of feelings and emotions.
  • Compassion/caring, empathy for self and others
  • An attitude of Gratitude
  • Self-empowerment

These activities can serve as templates for teachers who might also consider creating their own self and peer assessment questions. The latter can be administered at the beginning and/or at the end of each semester with or without the standard report card.

Mindfulness and meditation or stream of consciousness writing can lead to self-reflection and serve as a form of self-assessment. The intention can be stated at the beginning of either exercise: “Why am I saying or doing this?”

Once the student is aware or made aware by a family member, friend, classmate or teacher of a habit or behavior that seems to be ‘getting in the way’ of a students’ progress at home, school or community, he/she can change that habit or behavior.

“To affect change, one must become conscious of what motivates his/her actions.” Marshall Stern, author.

If for example, the habit or behavior deals with procrastination, Heidi Grant Halvorson, a social psychologist suggests a self-assessment strategy that asks three questions:

  • Am I putting this off because I’m afraid of failure due to criticism?
  • Am I procrastinating because it’s unpleasant?
  • Am I delaying this because I just don’t feel like doing it?

Perhaps, a student can ‘reframe’ or change his/her perception or perspective; that is, figure out ways in which the project or task can be enjoyable and make it a ‘want to’ rather than a ‘have to.”

The following quiz is another example of self-assessment: VICTOR or VICTIM?

  • Am I always part of the solution or part of the problem?
  • Do I see a solution for every problem or see a problem for every solution?
  • Do I say, “It may be difficult, but it’s possible Or It’s possible, but it’s too difficult?”
  • Do I listen or do I wait until it’s my turn to talk?”
  • When I make a mistake, do I say, “I was wrong” and apologize or do I say, “It wasn’t my fault.”
  • Do I say that “I’m responsible” for my choices or blame others for the consequences of my bad choices or mistakes?

Teachers can rely on the above mentioned self and peer assessments to assist students in applying their talents and skills to pursue their identified passion; Additionally, teachers can encourage the pursuit of their ‘passion with purpose’ for the betterment of self and others to help resolve social issues in schools and in the community.

“Our education system is certainly oriented around the resume virtues, the skills that you bring to the job market and that contribute to external success. The eulogy virtues are deeper…the ones that exist at the core of your being-whether you care, or are kind, brave, honest or faithful, the kind of relationships you formed.”

(David Brooks, The Road to Character)

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