Building Self-evaluative Mindsets and Tools

I had a teacher recently ask how handle it when students ask if their work is “good”. She wants to help them, but doesn’t want to be seen as the ultimate authority on what is “good”.

Firstly, “authority” and “expertise” are not bad things, and we don’t want to remove that experience and skill from our teams. However, I totally get where she is coming from in terms of not wanting to train students to be constantly reliant on others for evaluation of quality.

When students ask a teacher for guidance on whether their work is “good”, I usually try to do the following:
  • Let them know anything I share in terms of evaluation is only my opinion, based on my own experience, while appreciating that they view my opinion as valuable
  • Be open about my desire to help them calibrate their own ability to evaluate product quality
  • Try to help them be more specific in their language. For instance I might say: “I’m not sure what you mean by “good”. Are you wondering if I think the client will be happy with it? Or if it meets the criteria you are designing towards? Or if I think it demonstrates knowledge of the skill you are trying to develop”? etc.
And finally, I would invite the students to help me evaluate my work at times as well, and each other’s work, so they build that evaluative skill as well as practice the language of inviting and sharing analysis of work.
I hope that’s helpful. I’d love comments on how others approach this subject with care with their students.

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