This is sort of a weird question I've been thinking about: "How can I best assess my students ability to assess and evaluate?"
I teach future teachers, and I have been thinking about assessment and evaluation a lot lately, because we've been learning about this in my "Planning, Instruction, and Assessment in Middle School" course. (Formerly known as "Middle School Curriculum and Instruction"...we are changing our focus a bit to better capture the key tasks that make up our professional work as teachers.) The students in this course are learning for the first time some of the rigors of the work of teaching: what is actually involved in the planning process at the lesson level? The instructional unit level? The whole course level? How do we know what our students know, and how do we understand what our students understand? How do we actually teach something to someone else?
I am trying to make this course both theoretically-informed, but also practically relevant for them. For example, in our assessment unit, we have talked about all sorts of assessment- and evaluation-related topics, from different choices for formative and summative assessments, to the value of standardized tests, to how to create rubrics and criteria charts, to whether it is ethical to grade on the curve, to how standards-based assessment works, to how to write different kinds of test questions, to what grades really mean. I'm striving to make it a pretty comprehensive course. It also has a lot of meta-analysis...I'm encouraging them to dissect my own instructional decision-making (which is a little scary, to be honest) to see how well I'm modeling and illustrating the things we are learning about at both a theoretical and practical level.
My students have a test (ha! assessment!) on this material later this week. Even deciding what this test should look like became a learning activity: I shared my objectives for this unit with them, and gave them several options for ideas about how I might assess what they now know, understand, and are able to do with regard to assessment and evaluation. They wrestled through this in groups, and we eventually agreed on a viable assessment strategy--we decided it would be a test, in the end.
But what the test would look like?
We decided that I would give them 10 statements about assessment and evaluation, such as "Standards-based assessment takes much more time than traditional assessment practices." They will then state their level of agreement or disagreement (strongly disagree - disagree - agree - strongly agree) with each statement, and then articulate why they agree or disagree based upon the things we have learned about assessment and evaluation.
One of my students pointed out that they could actually have different answers in response to these statements and still get the answers "right." I agreed with this student--their level of agreement or disagreement with a particular statement has to be supported by some evidence, and really what I'll be assessing is their use of evidence to support and articulate their position. And, honestly, I think this is a key part of becoming a professional teacher: we make the best decisions we can based upon the information we have to work with, and we try to do this while being self-consistent with our own personal philosophy of education.
That's my hope for this assessment of their learning: that they will be able to apply what they have learned, evaluate their own beliefs about assessment and evaluation, and show me that they deeply understand the concepts we have been learning. Is this a perfect assessment? Perhaps not...but I'm striving to be self-consistent with my own philosophy of education here as well, and this seems like a step in the right direction for me.