Evaluation - What Good is it?

Students often ask????
How well am I learning? What are my strengths and weaknesses? What do I really know? How am I progressing? Am I learning enough? How do I evaluate my work?

Students need to find out the answers to these questions by learning how to evaluate their own work. They need to know what is expected and have confidence in their ability to become empowered, motivated, successful learners.
But what is Evaluation?

What is evaluation?
To star t I'll use the trusty dictionary definition of Evaluation from a wonderful online dictionary/encyclopedia source "Xrefer"
"1. Generally, the determining of the value or worth of something.
2. More specifically, the determination of how successful a program, a curriculum, a series of experiments, a drug, etc. has been in achieving the goals laid out for it at the outset."

Interestingly it is the second definition that gives the starting point for all good evaluation - the setting of goals. As teachers we set goals for our own programs. To use evaluation effectively as a motivational tool, students need to set their own goals. They need to understand what is expected in any given task, and they need to develop their own evaluation. This in turn empowers learners to produce work of high quality and personal value.
Setting Goals
So how do you do that?
A Personal Goal Setting Planner is an excellent start. There is a template at:-
Firstly you will need to discuss with your students what goals are and why you need to set them.

Why set goals? - here's a few ideas.
To succeed you need to know what you are trying to achieve.
To work out what is important.
To take responsibility for your learning.
To work out weaknesses and develop strategies to improve in these areas.
To realise strengths and develop them further.
To learn how to evaluate your own activities.
So you know when to reward yourself for achieving your goal.

There are some great ideas about goal setting from the Goals Guys at this amusing website which is suitable for both teachers and upper primary students.

Keeping Your Own Records
One way students can keep track of their progress is by keeping their own records. If their goal is to improve spelling results, or maths facts students can actually track their progress on a regular basis. Microsoft Excel is an excellent resource for this. Students can add their test results and watch their graph grow. If the results don't improve then they can alter their learning strategies. Watching your own graph grow is a great motivator. Any marks are suitable for this type of graphical representation.
Here's Catherine's Spelling Results:-

_+__Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 5 Week 6 Week 7 Week 8 Week 9 Week 10
Number Right 19 18 19 21 22 22 20 25 26 24
Quota______ 20 22 22 22 22 26.0 26 26 26.0 27


To make this graph
1. Open your Microsoft Excel program(Microsoft Excel is part of the Microsoft Office bundle)
2. Enter the data as above. Students can do this each time they have a test and watch their graphs on a weekly basis.

3. Highlight/Select all, the above cells and click on the Chart Wizard on the toolbar - it looks like this
4. Follow the chart wizard set up instructions.
- Step 1 Choose a graph type - click "next" -
- Step 2 The selection will already be made for you - nothing to do- click "next"
- Step 3 Add a chart title - click "next"
- Step 4 THE MOST IMPORTANT THING - select "as new sheet" for your chart - then click "finish".
And there you have it - a beautiful chart.
You may wish change the colours of your chart - the default options are pretty sad.
5. Click on the chart lines, cones, pyramids, prisms or whatever you used, and the 'Format Data Series' dialogue box will pop up, select the colour you want from the colour chart.
6. If you want more adventure click on the "fill effects" and select my favourite - "gradient", I like to select the "two colour" option and then select a "variant" at the bottom of the dialogue box. Play around with these options until you are happy with the results.
7. And now for something really special, add a picture to the background. Click on the background to bring up the 'Format Data Series' Dialogue Box, click on "fill effects" - click on the "picture" tab at the top of the dialogue box - click on "select picture". Scroll through your menus and find a picture you like, select it, click "OK", "OK" and the picture will be pasted to the background of your graph.
Tip You can use the Microsoft Office Clipart Photos - to do this you will need to locate the Microsoft Office folder and then the clipart folder.
8. If your not happy with the title of your Graph just click on it and add whatever you like.

You can make all sorts of stunning graphs this way. Students are delighted with the immediate results. Updating graphs with new test scores can be easily accomplished, and students love to watch their graphs improving.
Billy, Buster and Cathy graphed their test results together - take a look at their results.

More advanced students can add functions to their spreadsheets using the function key from the insert menu.

Self Tests, Peer Tests and Practice- Create Your Own Online
The web offers a number of sites where simple online tests can be set up. The Survey Suite is easy to use with great results, although basically for surveys, test type questions can also be set up at this site.
I have created a simple online Survey/Test for classroom readers to try at
(You can find the answers to the Tsunami Classroom Test above from this Thinkquest site:- http://library.thinkquest.org/C003603/english/tsunamis/index.shtml)
To view a tally of survey result go to:-
To ask good questions students will need to know their subject thoroughly and evaluating the work of other students will improve the judgement of their own.
Quia also offers many existing tests as well as the opportunity to make your own test.
Try this capital cities test
http://www.quia. com/mc/7.html
Or this multiplication fact review
Students can also make up their own test at this site
There are some wonderful practice sites as well on the web, my all time favourite is http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/megamaths/picknumber/index.html
"The Pick a Number" game is great for practising arithmetic skills. Practice games like these may become the strategy students select to reach their goals in weaker areas.

The icing on the cake - Webquests
As far as goal setting goes a good Webquests are the pièce de résistance
Webquests do most of the things listed in the section above on "Why set goals"
Students are given an Evaluation Rubric upfront.
Questions are precise and selected for the relevance to the subject.
Links are also pre-selected.
Students take responsibility for their own learning, pace and final presentation.
Webquests provide a sense of purpose and achievement.
The Rubric sets out the expectations and allocations of marks for the webquest and can be designed by the teacher or the teacher and students in consultation. Here are a few online Webquests which include evaluation rubrics:

The evaluation Rubric is a handy tool for many learning activities including Webquests.
Here are some other general webquest sites:-


If students are to achieve their goals they must be able to evaluate their own work. This is a skill which needs to be developed like all others. There are some great Templates for Evaluation and Assessment at:-

In today's learning environment student self-EVALUATION is the key to unlocking the students full potential, by improving self-esteem and self-confidence and building empowered motivated learners.


Cathy Brown B.Ed. (HONS) is a Educator with over 20 years teaching experience from Pre-school to Tertiary level, she gives seminars and inservice in Computer Technology and also writes a free email newsletter 'Virtual Teacher" http://www.virtualteacher.com.au