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Assessment methods: the metacognition ladder

Bastian Langston

Although the exam is the most popular evaluation method despite the fact students can buy an essay, there are many evaluation techniques with which the teacher and the student can develop a learning process based not only on a numerical grade. The targets self-assessment, the rubrics, the dossiers, or learning portfolios are examples of assessment methods in which the student may be the protagonist of his own progress.

The metacognition ladder is another evaluative technique in which the students intervene directly since the main objective is self-evaluation. It represents a ladder with four steps, and in each of them, there is a question about the learning process that the students must answer to 'climb' little by little.

"Grow step by step."

What have I learned when decided to pay someone to do your assignment? How have I learned it? What has it been for? And in what other situations can I use what I have learned? are the four questions that students must answer to move up the ladder. “The process helps students to grow 'step by step' by making them aware of their current learning situation, the path they have traveled, the limitations or possible progress they have left to continue learning ... In this way they are trained in the strategic and reflective use of their way of learning, directing them to a control of processes and the achievement of results”, indicates the teacher and psychopedagogue Blas. 

This method can be used from Nursery to Baccalaureate, although the Philosophy teacher Lourdes Cardenal highlights the differences according to the educational level. “In Infant, it can be done more informally, through dialogue; while the versions of the ladder in Primary and Secondary must differ in the way the reflection is conducted, adapting to the cognitive level and vocabulary of the students.”

Regarding the use of this self-evaluation technique, Blas comments that since it is a permanent feedback process, “it can be used both as a self-evaluation and as a team co-evaluation, in such a way that the questions on which the ladder 'interrogates' they help to draw individual or team conclusions about the process and the level of achievement of the learning outcomes achieved or to be achieved.” 

For his part, Cardenal indicates some questions to take into account before starting to use it with students:

  • Dialogue in a large group. Before the students begin to reflect with her about their learning, there must be a group dialogue in which all the students contribute ideas about what they think they have learned and improved on each rung of the ladder.
  • Dialogue in a small group. Large group dialogue can be replaced by small group dialogue when the activity we reflect on has been carried out in groups around cooperative learning. In this way, the ladder would become a tool for the team's self-assessment.
  • Individual reflection phase. Starting from the dialogue base, we would then proceed to a phase of personal reflection, more elaborate and deep. Each student writes in a rigorous and orderly manner what, specifically, has improved with the activity. They must have a printed copy of the ladder to facilitate this reflection and analysis.

How to use the metacognition ladder in the classroom

Blas indicates that the use of a metacognition ladder at any educational level provides "benefits of development and improvement of self-regulation, monitoring, and control processes, in addition to strengthening the executive functions of each student, essential to 'generate' autonomous learners." To do this, he emphasizes that the metacognition ladder should be used at different moments in the learning sequence: “At the beginning, with questions that help you mark a roadmap about the process; during, to be able to plan and operationalize the executive functions and at the end, to make them aware and self-regulate their autonomy towards learning.”

But how can it be implemented in the classroom? “It is instrumental when we use active methodologies in the classroom,” explains Cardenal, who offers two examples:

  • Visual Thinking (a tool used to organize ideas through simple drawings and short texts).
  • A game or a gamified adventure.

"These activities make it easier for boys and girls, as well as adolescents, to become aware of what they have done and what they have worked on and improved," emphasizes the teacher. He also suggests complementing the method with a learning diary: “In this way, students reflect for a while each day, following the metacognition ladder, about what they have learned, how they have learned it, and what it will be worth in the future.”, He concludes.

June 08, 2021 @ 06:25 AM EDT

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