Performance appraisals are commonly associated with a supervisor assessing the performance of a subordinate. However, performance appraisals can also be used in the classroom to provide students with feedback about their behavior and academic progress. We will look at the uses and problems of performance appraisals in the classroom as well as how to avoid common mistakes.
Uses of Performance Appraisals
Performance appraisals can be used to give students feedback about their progress in terms of behavior or academics. In addition, Appraisals can provide students with insights into their strengths and weaknesses. For example, a student might be solid academically, but the teacher may notice they struggle with interacting with others.
Appraisals can also be useful when determining rewards among students. Depending on the employed system, this can be one of many ways to assess honor and praise for students. Lastly, appraisals can help teachers be aware of what they need to do to help students academically or in other areas that need development.
Problems with Appraisals
There are several problems with appraisals. These problems may not all apply to the classroom but are common when performance appraisals are conducted in other settings such as business.
First, there can be problems with the instrument. The tool used to perform the assessment must be assessed for validity and reliability. Another common concern is something called the central tendency error. This happens when a teacher gives everybody a score in the middle and thus makes all students average. This is an example of a human error rather than a problem with the instrument itself. Teachers must remind themselves to recognize both excellent and abysmal performance.
An equally dangerous trap teachers may fall into is strictness or leniency error. This happens when a teacher is too mean or too nice, which can skew scores. Being too strict hurts excellent students while being too lenient rewards poor-performing students.
The halo effect involves giving good or bad scores in one component of an appraisal and continuing this scoring in another element. For example, if a student has excellent leadership skills and is marked highly for this. The teacher may also mark this same student as excellent in other categories when there is no evidence to support this.
The final two problems are recency error and personal bias. Recency error involves only remember the latest behavior of the student to the exclusion of older actions. Suppose the student is having a good day this beneficial. However, if a student has struggled recently for whatever reason (personal, health, etc.) and the teacher does not think of the overall trend, this can be detrimental.
Personal biases happen when a teacher does not get along with a student, which affects the scores the student earns in an appraisal. It is often not popular to speak about this, but all people have varying capacities to tolerate each other’s behavior and attitudes, and sometimes the clash of personalities rather than performance can influence how teachers assess a student.
Overcoming the Problems
Outside of validity and reliability, the majority of the problems with performance appraisals involve the human aspect. This means that the appraisers need to be aware of the mistakes they could make and make a conscious effort not to make these common errors as they can have a negative effect on students.
This means that teachers need to be aware of these pitfalls so that they do not make them. As such, necessary awareness is required to ensure that appraisals are fair and accurately measure the teacher’s perception of a student’s performance.
Everything that a teacher does has to be weighed in terms of pros and cons. Performance appraisals are another tool that a teacher can use in their classroom to provide feedback and support for students. However, a teacher must be aware of the drawbacks to using such a tool, which does not mean that the device should not be used even if it has some disadvantages.