Self-Evaluation of Schools: Classroom Based tools to help
Here are some examples of classroom based tools which can help the support a school self-evaluation approach.
Force field Analysis
The key influence lies at classroom level. When teachers and students are in possession of simple easy-to-use tools, they can discover a great deal about the nature, quality and progress of learning. An example of this is the force field. It simply asks students to suggest three things that help them learn better and three things that hinder their learning. In a class of 30 this would generate 90 positive and 90 negative items in a space of a few minutes. These can be very helpful to the teacher and the class in addressing both common and individual difficulties.
Another instrument is the spot check which examines what pupils are doing and learning at a given moment of time in their classroom or home study. The spot check gives a snapshot at any given moment of a student's state of concentration, anxiety, boredom. What has been found is that when teachers use this instrument at a random moment in the class and take in the feedback (anonymously so that individual students aren't identified) the data is highly revealing.
The spot check leads to an exploration of 'flow' (when it is found that a consistent number of students are not concentrating), and what classroom conditions best facilitate the 'high' which can come from challenging and rewarding learning situations. When we experience a challenging situation and have the skills to meet the challenge, the state is described as ‘flow’. Flow is a powerful feeling of being at one with what you are doing, thoroughly engaged and deriving energy and satisfaction from it. It is seen at its most concentrated form in sports in which athletes set targets for themselves, above their present level of skills. Flow occurs where high challenge and high skills coincide.
However, a number of things get in the way of flow. A situation can provoke anxiety when there is a high challenge but a low level of skill to meet it. When we do have the skills but are presented with something which does not convey a challenge, we are bored, and when we experience neither challenge nor use of our skills, we experience apathy.
Critical Incident analysis
Another useful tool is the critical incident analysis, used to identify single events which can inhibit learning and escalate into major crises. For example, the pupils are asked to identify a recent incident which had inhibited learning but which could have followed a different chain of events, and had a different outcome.
The article is inspired by and contains excerpts from the research on Evaluating School Performances Tools and Approaches, Putting self-evaluation in place by Professor Kathryn Riley and Professor John MacBeath. Download original here.