Here's the issue -
For the past 3 years I have been experimenting with students using Self-Assessment in my classes. For each course they get a % of their grade for Participation. I stopped giving this grade myself and decided to let students score themselves. I do this using a Self-Assessment rubrik or grid. I've had a lot of success with this, so much so that I now do it for all my classes. All my students score themselves for participation using the grids, mostly we do 3 self-assessment sessions over the semester, using the grids, and that adds up their total participation score. Here's an example of one of the grids:
Class Participation (10% of grade x3)
This score is derived from Self-Assessment. We will complete this 3 times for a total of 30%
To what extent do you agree with these statements? 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree.
1 2 3 4 5
1) I try to engage with the tasks and work hard in class
2) I speak English as much as possible in class (about 80%)
3) I try hard to do homework and research outside of class
4) I communicate and cooperate with my classmates
5) Overall, I feel I am doing the best I can
This is a grid which was created by the students themselves and negotiated together. I'm really proud of this technique because I feel A) it is much more accurate than me giving each student a score, B) it motivates the students to maintain their participation over the course and keep their own goals, C) it obviously gives them more control over their learning and therefore autonomy and D) it's just pretty darn awesome IMHO. It makes the students feel trusted, respected. It has become a core part of what I do in class.
So, one of the things I do is to explain to the students that I won't interfere with their grade. This is their score. They decide it. The main issue I ever have is that students are too hard on themselves, so I tell them to be kind and realistic to themselves.
I've never had a problem with a student abusing this system in the 3 years I've been doing it. Until, you guessed it, this semester. That's why I am writing this post. Basically I have one student in a particular class who gave himself the highest possible score for participation (50, the class average was 42.25). He is often late and he's not one of the most 'participatory' students by a long shot. That's not so much an issue really. On his comments he wrote "this score is for my future participation". But, he's not been participating more, in fact he got worse. This class is now all reading a novel in English and I told them three weeks ago to buy the book and start reading it. They actually voted as a class to read this book. Of course, Mr 50 didn't have a book and had not started reading, meaning he could not participate in the class discussions. I was quite upset about this, since he gave himself a high score for participation I expect him to earn that score. Worse still, he was falling asleep in my class and I had to wake him up a few times!
So, I asked him very gently to speak to me after class. I was not threatening in my tone, although I am sure he was a little worried about being asked to speak to me after class. Anyway, who was the first student to leave class that day? Yes, it was Mr 50 who ran off before I could talk to him.
When I do finally catch up to him I'm not sure what to say. Here's the dilemma in a nutshell. It's not fair for him to get a high participation score when other more honest students are grading themselves lower even though I can see that they are working harder than Mr 50. However, I don't know what's going on in Mr 50's life and THAT is the whole reason I let them Self-Assess. But my feeling is that even if he's having a hard time outside of class then he should be making more effort than he currently is, since he assessed himself at 50 which is full marks. Should I make him change his grade? Should I go against the sacrosanct Self-Assessment rule I myself created in order to make it fair for the class? Oh, what to do! I've never had this issue before and it's causing me quite a bit of consternation.
Many thanks for your help and comments.