With students losing hope when faced with challenges in the classroom, daily student-involved formative assessment that contributes to a growth mindset is essential. Through self-assessment and dialogue, students can generate feedback used for improvement of their writing, and teachers can give feedback that fosters self-efficacy. The purpose of this qualitative multi-case study was to explore the growth of fifth-grade writers as they participated in self-assessment, writing conferences with their teacher, and story revision. Research questions focused on students’ ability to explain learning targets and strengths and weaknesses of their writing and their ability to revise their writing. The participants, two male and one female, were randomly chosen from the teacher/researcher’s fifth-grade classroom in a large public school in the Midwest. Data sources included audio-recorded interviews and writing conferences, student-written work and self-assessments, and teacher assessments and notes. Self-assessment and dialogue with the teacher served as tools for providing feedback to the student and the teacher. Throughout implementation of the instructional strategies, students were able to talk about the learning targets and the strengths and weaknesses of their writing and were motivated and able to revise their writing. Limitations of the study included the length of the study and diversity of participants. Suggestions for future research included exploring ways to elicit more student feedback and the impact of teacher language during writing conferences on the self-efficacy of students.


Case Study, Dialogue, Feedback, Formative Assessment, Growth Mindset, Qualitative Research, Self-Assessment, Writing, Writing Conferences

Author Bio(s)

Stephanie Baxa currently teaches fifth grade in a large school district in the Midwestern United States. She has taught 17 years, and her teaching experience includes fifth grade, sixth grade, and seventh grade. Stephanie received a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and special education with middle school endorsements from Dakota Wesleyan University in 1998 and a Masters’ degree in Leadership in Reading from the University of Sioux Falls in 2015. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Stephanie Baxa at Stephanie.Baxa@k12.sd.us.

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