Case Studies Examine the Complexities of Self-Assessment

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Case studies examine the complexities of self-assessment Trusting What You Know: The High Stakes of Classroom Relationships By Miriam B. Raider-Roth 2005, Jossey-Bass Hardcover, 211 pages, $30 To order, call (877) 762-2974 Fax: (800) 597-3299 Web: WileyCDA/

Reviewer's rating: 3 out of 4

What precisely are students expected to do and learn when their teachers ask them to assess their process, their work, and even themselves as learners? What are the effects of the classroom environment and the teacher-student relationship on this assessment? Trusting What You Know is a much-needed examination of the practice and act of self-assessment.

In a highly readable format that includes detailed case studies of four slightly precocious and very articulate 6th graders, Miriam Raider-Roth presents the findings of her research at the Terrace School, a small independent school in the Northeast with a child-centered philosophy in which students beginning in the youngest grades reflect on themselves and their learning.

The format of Trusting What You Know is a classic research study. Yet Raider-Roth accurately asserts that the book is "... a travelogue of my journey, in order to examine fundamental questions about relationship, trust, and learning" (p. 14). Raider-Roth contends that students' trust affects what they tell their teachers and friends and that self-assessment is really relational assessment. The complexities and interactions of relationships, trust, knowledge, and power affect self-assessment.

Raider-Roth challenges educators to think about their own actions by asking, "How genuine and authentic are teachers in their relationships with students?" (p.31). She concludes by asking, "If we learn that children are watching how we build relationships with them and are modulating their spoken knowledge accordingly, what impact will that have on the way we teach?" (p. 149).

The author says that Trusting What You Know has four implications for future educational practices and, particularly, for teachers' professional development. Teachers should learn to help students find and refine their authentic voices, to listen more attentively to their students' voiees, to create curricula that generate ongoing conversations between teachers and students, and to provide supportive school structures, such as scheduled time, to build quality relationships. …