Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Power of Self-Monitoring Tools

“I was monitoring how much I knew vs. what I didn't know. It helped me keep track of what to keep looking at and what I already knew.”
~CNA Student’s response to the question, “What were the positive aspects of the self-monitoring tool?”

Sarah Berreth, a CNA and Medical Related Careers Teacher at the Career Academy, saw the need for her students to track progress, so she experimented with a few tools. She explained, “This process took a lot of time because my students simply needed to be explicitly taught how to monitor their progress.”  As one of her students said, “It was a very hard concept to grasp for most of the year. We are not accustomed to that type of a learning tool. As a senior in high school, after 12 years of education, it was hard to grasp the concept.”

One of the CNA sub-standards is knowing the meaning of medical abbreviations; therefore, Sarah had her students research the meaning of each abbreviation and then independently organized that information in a Google doc.  
Figure 1.1
Students monitor progress by highlighting their own notes (Figure 1.1) regarding which medical abbreviations they know and don’t know.  Green - “Got it!”  Yellow - “Getting it!”  Red - “Just getting started!”  

Sarah took time out of her class to have them reflect on the terms periodically, so they could see the progress they were making toward the overall goal.  The students agreed that this was an effective tool in helping them to study, and, as the student in the video mentioned, she was able to apply this strategy in her other classes.

The self-monitoring tool worked effectively for the abbreviations, but the students and teacher did not think it was as effective while they were monitoring progress on the proficiency scales (Figure 1.2).  The students said there was too much information and sometimes they “didn’t read through it.”  Sarah is planning to alter this tool, so they can gauge their progress toward the overall goal of the standard. When Sarah was asked what alterations she had in mind, her
Figure 1.2
reply was, “In visiting with my students, the monitoring tools need to be 1) simple and 2) relatable. The proficiency scales had too many words and ideas. The students wanted it to be simplified with a clear goal. The terms worked well because they could see exactly what to study and their progress. I am trying to come up with a monitoring tool that can be used for every section.  This would save a lot of time in explaining the tool if it was the same throughout. I would like the student to write the standard/goal at the top and then write each assessment or practice on the left-hand side. I would then like to assess where they are in achieving that goal 1, 2, 3, 4… I like this idea because I would like to do a pre-assessment, after lecture/discussion knowledge check, after application activity, and at assessment time.  I would then like to have the option of a graph, so they can see progress towards reaching the end goal.”

Sarah is a teacher who is always reflecting to improve her practice; therefore, end-of-course evaluations completed by her students are important to her.  Out of 19 CNA students, their responses were favorable in regards to the benefits of using a self-monitoring tool.


Even though the teacher was concerned about the amount of time spent teaching her students how to use the tool, the lifelong skill these students acquired outweighs the time she could have spent elsewhere. Her students will leave this semester class feeling empowered by the ability to use tools that will allow them to take control of their learning.