L.E. Lara

Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (MEXICO)
Academic assesment is a complex activity by itself, sometimes even subjective, although it is performed continuously and permanently. Making an exercise of self-assesment is even more complex. I have reflected upon multiple factors that occur in the teaching-learning process, for example, what the hidden curriculum implies, the previously learned knowledge, the use of language before the course begins, and the use, comprehension, reflection and interconection of concepts.

The answers to these reflections are hard to solve, unless we had some device to measure in quantity or quality all the elements a students has before starting a course; a scale device to measure the “level” of learning with which every student arrives to the classroom the first day would solve the assesment exercise. Obviously, at the end of the course we would have to measure the student again and check if there was actually a “real” learning, a meaningful learning. Although it is actually difficult to measure and check the before and after, and there is not such device, I have been making for seven years a self-assesment exercise which surprises students when they realize they have really learned, that keeps impacting and pleasing me.

Students from the 10th grade from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, from the Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades, take the Mexican History subject; after that, excepting the students who will study a degree related to social studies, the rest of the students will not course in a formal way a subject that gets them closer to the study of their own country. This is why it is of utmost importance to choose ludic activities, and especially, to be certain, as a teacher, that meaningful learning is made. For these reasons, I use Facebook, e-mails, and museums visits under different, out of the usual guidelines. They are means of academic interaction that support the self-assesment exercise I make.

The self-assesment exercise begins the first day of classes when the students are asked to write a paper concerning their perception of Mexico, as a country; it does not have any restricions of extension or special indications for its development. At the end of the six months course they write a second paper with the same indications and characteristics. This self-assesment exercise consists in comparing the two papers to show the students the learning obtained. The results obtained and some strategies used along the course are presented in the paper.