The Possibilities and Limits of a Self-Assessed Class (rewrite)

In many college writing classes I get assigned an essay to write and the professor gives me my grade based on what he or she considers is the standard for writing. This standard could be different for every professor though. However, when I grade myself, the standard is mostly up to me and I get to decide what I consider meets that standard.

Self-assessed classes can be very freeing and less restrictive than other classes where I am getting graded by the teacher based on the teacher’s beliefs and standards. In this type of class I can decide myself what I have earned. Of course, I can lie and say I deserve an A when I put in little to no effort, but that could lead to not getting anything out of the class. I can also work extra hard and create high standards for myself to meet and learn a lot more that I would have.

In the class The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership, taught by Dr. Beth McCoy, I am able to assess myself based on the rubric by Dr. McCoy. This rubric is to measure my care for my course accountability, care for my growth and care for my peer’s growth. The rubric is something that comes along with assessing myself, though as long as I show care and effort I should earn the grade I want.Though, others may see the rubric as something that limits them, in my opinion, having the rubric is not a restriction, but more something to help us guide us through and get something out of the class. 

Although self-assessment has many positives, there are also some risks that are involved. In a traditional classroom, where professors give me the grade that they think is the most suitable for me, there is an incentive to try hard and get the best grade possible, when assessing myself, that incentive can go away. Suddenly, all of the will to try hard is on me. I have to decide what my standards are. I can have extremely low standards and put little to no effort in, which is fine, but will I really be getting much out of that class? Later in life when I have to work hard or apply the skills I should have learned in the class, I can’t. When I do not put in hard work into a class I can’t learn from it.

On the other hand, I can set really high standards for myself and work as hard in that class as I would for any other class I take. Self-assessment could work really well when the student actually works hard. In this case, the student has freedom to be as creative as they want and write in their own style. As long as they apply themselves, and grow in the class, they get the grade they deserve. 

After every essay I write in The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership, Dr. Beth McCoy gives me feedback on what she liked and what I can still improve on. This can be very helpful to the student who wants to get something out of this class. If the student has very high expectations for themselves, they can take Dr. McCoy’s advice and really use it to grow and learn. Although, if I am only doing the assignments because I feel I have to, and not to get anything out of it, these comments will not do anything for me at all. They can only help me if I want them to help me.

I have found Dr. McCoy’s feedback to be very helpful. Through her feedback, I have been able to improve my writing with every essay I write. I am also able to revise my writings to make them better and really learn through my mistakes. So far, I have learned to slow down my writing and really express what I am thinking. I know that by the end of the class I can improve immensely through applying myself and listening to her feedback.

In The Risks and Rewards of Academic Partnership, we read the short story “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler. There are many comparisons you can make to this story and this class. In “Bloodchild”, the characters live in a preserve on another planet run by aliens. On this planet, humans are used as carriers for the alien’s eggs and are forced to undergo a birthing process that may be fatal. The aliens and humans must create a trust with each other in order to live and work together. This is similar to the relationship between the professor and student. A student must trust that the professor knows what they are doing and is guiding them through the right path. The professor must trust that the student is being honest and putting in as much effort into their work as they are showing. Another comparison is that restriction of having to carry and birth the eggs is similar to the restriction of the rubric. The humans are free to live on their planet rent free but the one catch is that they have to carry the eggs, similar to how the students in a self-assessed class have the freedom to grade themselves but the restriction of the rubric.

Although some may jump at the chance to take a self-assessed class, others may decide that it is not for them. They may realize that they don’t have the discipline for it or they may just not want the pressure to be all on them. Some may also decide that they do not like the restriction of having a rubric to follow when they are assessing themselves. That is why taking a self-assessed course can be both very freeing and very restricting at the same time.

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