Duane Henry and Mary Lee
How good are students at evaluating their own learning? This was the focus of Learning School 3's inquiry, unearthing some penetrating and disturbing insights. What became very clear from both the quantitative data and the qualitative data from student interviews is that students can reflect on their learning but have often never been given the opportunity to do so, and have never engaged in a conversation about their learning, or rarely if ever been asked to think about the internal and external influences on their motivation. Confirmation for this comes from teachers who were also interviewed and agreed that their students were not good self-evaluators, admitting that often the pressures of time and assessment produced a collusion to just 'get through'. It is a reminder of Entwistle's work on surface and deep learning and what he called 'strategic' (or tactical) learning designed for examination purposes and not for life after school.
In this chapter the focus is on a German school because this was the first from which a complete data set was available at the time of writing. But the issues which emerge here are, according to the two LS3 research teams, representative of what was emerging consistently in other countries, in Hong Kong, Sweden, Scotland and South Africa.
The following questions attempt to ascertain whether students reflect on their learning or not.
1 When you have finished some study, do you think about whether you have understood it?
This question attempts to explore whether students' reflection is important to self-evaluation, as it involves students thinking about whether or not they are satisfied with what they have done. A student can learn a new fact, but may not fully understand it. As Figure 18.1 shows, only 1 in 5 do this on a regular basis but 65 per cent say they do it often. A small minority say they rarely or never try to understand their work.
2 Do you think about the process of your learning?