On the first day of class, I like to have students perform a self-assessment of themselves and their creative writing knowledge. It isn't graded, but it feels like a quiz and records their attitudes and knowledge before the class starts.
The survey was designed for an introductory creative writing class. Feel free to change it to suit your class.
How to use the self-assessment
On the first or second day of class pass out hardcopies of the survey and have students answer the questions as best they can. Do this in class. Don't let them take the survey home. Next, have them give themselves a grade by giving each answer a score from 0-3 and adding up the total points. Have them write that score at the top of the survey. After they grade themselves, collect the assessments and hold onto them until the end of the semester. You can look at them if you are curious, but I didn't.
During the last week of class, pass out new, blank hardcopies of the survey and have them answer the questions and grade themselves in the same way. Once they are done pass back their first-day assessments.
It is a very positive experience. Students are able to see what they have learned and how their thinking has changed. They are always surprised by how much their answers have changed, even though it has only been four months.
This survey comes mostly from one given to me by Keith Abbott, professor of creative writing at the Jack Kerouac School at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. When I first started teaching I was interested in contemplative pedagogy, but found few like-minded folks in my department. Desperate to bounce ideas off someone, I contacted Professor Abbott and spoke with him on the phone. He was very generous with his time and shared a number of his classroom materials with me, including his first-day survey. Unfortunately, he is no longer listed on the Jack Kerouac School's faculty page, which means Naraopa has lost an excellent teacher.