The elementary school “Gianni Rodari” in Modena, Italy, has recently added to the traditional report card another module where numbers or words are replaced by emoticons. The school manager Dr. Daniele Barca explains that it is intended as “a way to help children to evaluate themselves”. At the end of the first four months of school, the children of two first year classes have been delivered a sheet of questions regarding school progress.

Examples of questions were “can I write letters?”, “can I write the numbers 1 to 10?”, “do I like reading?” etc. Each question was accompanied by three emoticons - where the smiley face corresponds to a good mark, whereas the frightened one means that more work is needed (and a neutral face in between).

The children, together with their parents, had to mark the emoticons most closely reflecting their learning level. Their teachers were also given the same evaluation sheets, and ticked the emoticons they thought represented their students’ achievements. Later, students and teachers together compared the evaluation sheets, and discussed their findings - at the presence of the children’s parents.

The purpose of the experiment is to develop the children’s self-assessment skills, and is a result of long studies; the emoticons were used given the children’s age, as they are 6 year old, with only 4 months schooling at the time of the experiment.


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