educational vampires use evaluation in the wrong settings. Innoculate yourself by practicing self-assessment.

Educational Vampires — PowerUp to Protect Yourself and Loved Ones (updated)

Protect yourself and loved ones from the grievous bite of the Educational Vampires using a technique called PowerUp. This article will explain why PowerUp works as both a cure, in it’s regular form, and a vaccine when using Self-PowerUp. PowerUp is the single most effective tool that could transform learning across the world. Don’t let your loved ones or yourself suffer. Learn how to PowerUp today.

Educational Vampires Afflicting Learners

It happens every day, in every school, during every second. An Educational Vampire (EV) bites into another student. The bite is often grievous enough to change the course of learners’ lives. Learners’ have their love of learning, faith in schools, and worst of all, belief in themselves drained away. Stricken learners either develop into: fear-driven perfectionists, reward-driven coasters, or lethargic zombies. Lethargic zombies, abbreviated LZ, are often mistaken as lazy and then blamed for their condition.

Negative Effects of EVAL

EVs are not new. The species evolved as a more wicked type of Energy Vampire. There is evidence suggesting that they were the ones who invented schools for ease of access to learners’ souls. But EVs are lurking among us with even more approaches to draining the life from our students, such as frequent standardized testing. The act has become so common that it’s now standard practice with its own name, EVAL – Educational Vampires Afflicting Learners. EVAL is often masked as a more academic word, evaluation.

Also, the problem is growing since it’s so easy for anyone to become an EV. Sometime in our life, an EV has bitten us, likely multiple times over many years. The “virus” lies dormant until the right moment comes along. In order to trigger the condition, all an EV has to do is utter words that drain positive emotions from a student. In the name of improvement, they find fault with the learners’ work. “That’s a good effort,” an EV might say, “but it’s not up to standards, Billy. You have to try even harder. You’ve earned a C.” Now, Billy may be thinking, “no matter how hard I try, the teacher finds fault with me. I must be stupid.” Billy, with these negative internal thoughts may stop trying, or not try so hard, and is internalizing “stupid” to his self-image.

Are you vulnerable? Has an EV ever bitten you? Then, you’re a carrier. Have you ever bitten a student, drained their learning soul? Then, you’re a practicing EV, even if “your intentions were good.” What can we do to stop the spread of this terrible affliction?

What You Can Do to Protect Your Loved Ones and Yourself

Fortunately, there’s a cure for carriers and EVs, as well as a vaccine for our children. The cure is to move away from evaluation as the dominant feedback source and only use it when students are fully prepared for the “bite.” Evaluation, short for summative evaluation, is done to make a judgement such as assigning a final grade or deciding whether to promote someone to the next level. The cure is called assessment. Formative assessment is done during learning to discover ways to improve. We call the approach PowerUp. By assessing for Strengths, Opportunities, and Insights, you’re increasing the power of your performance.

The vaccination is a form of the cure. It must be displayed and encouraged by our educators and parents to help our learners practice it as well. The vaccination is named Self PowerUp or Self-Assessment (not to be confused with another affliction, Selfies). The diagram below shows the six steps of PowerUp Assessment.

Powerup assessment is a 6 step, repeatable process for self-improvement.

The EV Cure

As a potential or practicing EV, whether you’re a teacher, parent, boss or other person-of-power, you can self-administer the cure by practicing PowerUp wherever you might have normally practiced EVAL. When practiced regularly with a learner, the steps in this list have been shown to help.1 In this explanation, the educator is the assessor, and the learner is the assessee.


1TrustEstablish Trust Between Assessor and Learner. Learners benefit through friendly, kind, and trusted analysis of their work.
2ScopeInclude the purpose and scope of both the work and the assessment, the parts to be assessed, and how feedback is given.
3CriteriaDetermine the measures of a quality performance.
4Perform & Analyze The assessor finds two to three strengths that deserve support, two to three opportunities for growth, and any insights gained. Statements are confirmed with evidence and the areas for growth include clear suggestions to the learner.
5FeedbackThe assessor conveys the feedback to the learner and answers any questions; strengths are presented first, followed by opportunities for growth, and concluded with the insights the assessor gained. The elements of feedback improve future performance (see the graphic below).
6PlanThe learner discusses the plan and schedules future assessments throughout the term emphasizing “early and often”

Assessment feedback contains 4 elements that are critical to improving future performance.

How to Administer the Cure

When done often, Self PowerUp encourages a culture of learning. Each student now trusts the educator and looks forward to feedback. Before the necessary end-of-term evaluation (“the bite”) the learner is told that a grade is required, but since they’ve practiced and improved, it’s simply another learning chance. Though educators may not be ready for more grading, a classroom of strong assessors/learners who support each other lightens the load.

A mastery learning3 environment as proposed by Benjamin Bloom in 1968 (yes, the creator of Bloom’s Taxonomy) further strengthens the impact of Self PowerUp. Mastery allows assessment to be used

Vaccinating Learners

Vaccinations tend to erase a disease, when all likely carriers are protected from infection. Much like vaccinations against viruses, regular Self PowerUp, prevents EVs from draining or infecting their intended victims. The evaluation feedback either glances off or becomes assessment.

Self-PowerUp is nothing more than learners assessing their own work. Benefits of self-assessment are the added means of self-analysis. Not only are self-assessors aware of their own work, they are also able to recall the input of their thoughts and feelings to the observed quality. A potential downside to this is that the learner is often not experienced as an educator, so the assessment quality may be lower. Over time, the capability of Self-PowerUp strengthens through enhanced self-awareness.

Recovered EVs assess their learners’ PowerUp assessments. Assessing the assessment enhances this vital self-growth skill.

Example PowerUp Assessment

Carlos is going to write a research paper and is developing the outline first. He asks Martha if she would assess his outline. Martha’s an experienced writer who’s familiar with Self PowerUp. Carlos trusts her. In time, she agrees, and they talk about the traits for an effective outline. They decide that the thesis statement and logical structure are the factors she will assess. Focusing on the thesis statement, Martha describes the qualities needed: clarity, importance, attractiveness, and arguability. Then, she explains that an outline may be assessed on its standard parts, such as: introduction, criteria, regard of various approaches, argument in favor of the thesis statement, the support for the position, and the conclusion.

What Feedback Should Look Like


  • The thesis is interesting, important, and clear. The idea to best reduce greenhouse emissions by focusing on the mixture of ease of reduction and greatest impact is compelling and effective.
  • The evidence you have for “methane is the greatest contributor” is backed up by several well-known references.

Opportunities for Improvement

  • The only evidence for the ease of reducing methane involves enclosing feedlots to capture methane emissions from cows, sourced from a website. Resources, containing more realistically large reductions, are required. Looking at another contributing gas, when more resources aren’t available, is important.
  • The criteria do not support differentiating the various gases; the criteria do measure the volume of annual releases, and the impact of the gases, but they do not measure the ease of reduction methods by source; specify what ease of reduction is, and also what sources it reduces, and by how much


  • This approach to analysis is an effective analytical framework for attacking this or other similar types of problems, such as water or particulate pollution, particularly when more than one source.

Martha discusses the feedback with Carlos and clarifies his questions. She then encourages him to bring it back for another assessment. She avoids judgmental language such as “good” or “bad.” She also avoids saying “you did” or “you didn’t” which would be more personal. Instead, she looks at the outline itself and comments strictly on the evidence.

Call to Action

The consistent use of Self PowerUp by educators creates an environment where learners look forward to feedback, seek it out on their own, continually strengthen their performances, and then improve their own Self PowerUp. By separating assessment from evaluation, learners are better able to receive an evaluation and resist internalizing the judgments as personal failings or punishment. Consequently, they will find the good in their evaluations and use it as assessment feedback. In this way, learners become immune to the damage Educational Vampires do, and avoid becoming one themselves.

Please spread the word. The impact of EVAL robs students of the joy of learning, the initiative to improve, and destroys their belief in themselves. Educators, parents, and students should aggressively pursue the solution. Do your part and share this article widely and we can put an end to Educational Vampires!

Next Steps

Explore why we prefer improvement assessment to support growth, how you can make it work, how you can do self-assessment, and how to turn evaluation into assessment. Read our post, Improve Anything – How to Give Feedback That Works,  and don’t forget to sign up for your free coaching tool.


  1. Adapted from p. 55 of Apple, D., Ellis, W., & Hintze, D. (2016a). 25 Years of Process Education: Assessment vs. Evaluation (1991). International Journal of Process Education, 8(1), 53–58. Retrieved September 24, 2017 from
  2. Apple, D., Ellis, W., & Hintze, D. (2016b). 25 Years of Process Education: Self-Assessment (1992). International Journal of Process Education, 8(1), 59–66. Retrieved September 24, 2017 from
  3. Bloom, B. S. (1968). Learning for Mastery. Instruction and Curriculum. Regional Education Laboratory for the Carolinas and Virginia, Topical Papers and Reprints, Number 1. Evaluation Comment, 1(2). Retrieved from

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