Overcoming Obstacles

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Lesson 8: Self-Assessment


  • Students will explore the usefulness of their self-assessment.

  • Students will discover questions to consider when self-assessing.

  • Students will choose a method of self-assessing their service learning experiences.

Part I: Self-Assessment: What and Why

Purpose: Students discuss what self-assessment is and why it can be useful.

1. Students write about a personal experience.

Ask students to write about a personal experience that was either very positive or very negative. Tell students to be as descriptive as they can. They should include what happened, how they felt, what they would change about the experience, and what actions they would repeat.

2. Students self-assess the experience.

Encourage students to discuss what they wrote, and ask them if they learned anything from their experiences. Explain that they have just completed the process of self-assessment: taking stock of a situation and deciding what lessons were learned, what actions to repeat, and what not to repeat. Self-assessment is how people learn in the workplace and in life.

Part II: What to Consider

Purpose: Students explore questions to consider when self-assessing.

1. Students brainstorm self-assessment questions.

Have students brainstorm questions they think should be considered when self-assessing their service learning project. Write responses on the board. If appropriate, include some or all of the following:

  • What was the goal of the project? Do you think the goal was achieved? Why or why not?
  • Was the work you did personally meaningful to you? Why?
  • Who do you think benefited from your work? How did they benefit?
  • What made you happy about your experience? What made you unhappy? Was there anything about the project that bothered you? What? Why?
  • Did you have a chance to interact with people whom the project was serving? How? What was that like?
  • If you could have done one thing about the project differently, what would it have been? Why?
  • What was the best part of your service learning experience? The worst? Why?
  • Did you learn anything new during the process? What?
  • What is happening in your community/society that makes your project necessary?
  • Are there any assumptions or stereotypes that you held when you started this project that you now know to be false?
  • How are you different after participating in the service learning project?

Part III: Methods of Self-Assessing

Purpose: Students choose a means of self-assessing their service learning experience.

1. Students identify modes of expression.

Have students work in small groups of three or four to brainstorm different ways in which people express themselves. To help students begin their work, you may need to provide some examples (e.g., writing, music, painting). Have each group report back to the class on the results of its brainstorming while a volunteer writes responses on the board.

After all responses are recorded, engage the class in a discussion about the modes of expression that are listed. Ask students to explain which mode they feel most comfortable using to express their own thoughts and feelings, and which they are most able to understand or learn from.

Explain to students that people learn and express what they know or think in many different ways. Ensure that students understand that no one mode of expression or learning is better than the others—whichever mode allows them to learn or express themselves best is the mode that they should use.

2. Students complete a self-assessment of their project.

Have students complete a self-assessment of their participation in the service learning project in a way that takes advantage of their preferred learning and/ or expression styles. Students may wish to express their thoughts in writing, music, art, or dance. If students wish, invite them to share their self-assessment projects with their classmates. If students feel that their self-assessment works are personal, assure them that they will be kept private.

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