The ability to assess one’s self is an essential skill, both for educational attainment and progress in later life. The Cox Report (1989) states that learning in English should, ‘enable pupils to exercise more conscious and critical control over the writing process.’ Self- assessment is a critical component for ensuring pupils have the necessary level of autonomy when working and learning. This is because self-assessment allows pupils to police their own work and gives them the skills they need to progress. This is in line with the rationale of the Scottish Governments curriculum, which has aims to ensure pupils develop “skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work” (Scottish Government 2009, p.8).
E.L. Thordike demonstrated the necessity of self-assessment, to progress learning, in his human learning experiments. Thorndike attempted to draw a circle while blindfolded, after drawing for 3 days, he found no evidence of learning at the end of it. (Thorndike, 1931) Being blindfolded, Thorndike had no means to assess if he was making any progress or improving. The same can be said for pupils who are unaware of the criteria they have to meet – if they don’t know what success looks like, they might as well be drawing wearing a blindfold. Understanding what is required from them is essential for pupils to be able to assess their own work and ensure that they are progressing. Knowing what is expected from writing is vital when learning to write, at any level, as underpinned by Moss (2009) who emphasises the importance of, ‘models for writing.’
Kierkegaard states that, ‘If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin. […] for he knows the result only when the whole thing is over, and that is not how he becomes a hero, but by virtue of the fact he began.’ Though it is agreed that learning is not hinged on results and there are many ways for gauging success, if the hero does not know what to do, he will also be unable to overcome challenges. Understanding what is desired allows pupils to tailor their work and learning appropriately. Doing this allows pupils to attain more effectively as they are made privilege to the knowledge of what they should do to succeed. By reinforcing these practises, pupils are better equipped to monitor their work to guarantee success. It therefore seemed appropriate to investigate what effects introducing an objective viewing of criteria on meeting the specification for national certificate standards. Doing this would allow pupils to create a criteria checklist for their work which would ultimately lead to higher levels of attainment as they are better able to meet the expected standards for certificate level writing.
To evaluate the impact of setting an objective understanding of the Nationalised standards in order to:
- Fully develop pupils’ understanding of the SQA expectations and grading frameworks.
- To improve attainment in the National 5 coursework, following prelim results, especially in regards to the critical essay.