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1. What is self-assessment?
2. Why employ self-assessment?
3. How can you incorporate self-assessment?
4. What else should you consider when incorporating self-assessment?

1. What is self-assessment?

The ability to be a realistic judge of one’s own performance.

2. Why employ self-assessment?

  • Provides timely and effective feedback and allows for quick assessment of student learning.
  • Allows instructors to understand and provide quick feedback on learning.
  • Promotes academic integrity through student self-reporting of learning progress.
  • Promotes the skills of reflective practice and self-monitoring.
  • Develops self-directed learning.
  • Increases student motivation.
  • Improves satisfaction from participating in a collaborative learning environment.
  • Helps students develop a range of personal, transferrable skills to meet the expectations of future employers.

3. How can you incorporate self-assessment?

  • Identify which assignments and criteria are to be assessed.
  • Articulate expectations and clear criteria for the task; this can be accomplished with a rubric.
  • Motivate students by framing the assignment as an opportunity to reflect objectively on their work, determine how this work aligns with the assignment criteria, and determine ways for improvement.
  • Provide an opportunity for students to agree upon and take ownership of the assessment criteria.
  • Draw attention to the inner dialogue that people engage in as they produce a piece of work. You can model this by talking out loud as you solve a problem, or by explaining the types of decisions you had to think about and make as you moved along through a project.

Some Self-Assessment Tasks
Assignment cover sheet (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2011)

  • Require students to submit a cover sheet with their assignment.
  • On the cover sheet, students should respond self-assessment prompts (for example):
    • What is strong, or what went well with this assignment? Provide examples.
    • What do you think is weak about this assignment?

Small Feedback Groups

  • Provide students with feedback on an assignment.
  • Have students work in pairs or small groups.
  • Have them or orally explain and discuss the feedback they received.

4. What else should you consider when incorporating self-assessment?

  • The difference between self-assessment and self-grading will need clarification.
  • The process of effective self-assessment will require instruction and sufficient time for students to learn.
  • Students are used to a system where they have little or no input in how they are assessed, and are often unaware of assessment criteria.
  • Students will want to know how much self-assessed assignments will count toward their final grade in the course.
  • Incorporating self-assessment can motivate students to engage with the material more deeply.
  • Self-assessment assignments can take more time.
  • Research shows that students can be more stringent in their self-assessment than the instructor.
  • Traditional, instructor assessment can result in “backwash” where the assessment determines what and how students learn more than the curriculum.
  • Upper-level, science-oriented courses are better suited for self-assessment

Resources for Incorporating Self-Assessment:

Structures for Self-Assessment, The Foundation for Critical Thinking
Helping Students Self-Assess Their Learning, Georgia State University Center for Teaching and Learning
Student Self-Assessment, Duquesne University Center for Teaching Excellence


Falchikov, N, Boud, D. (1989) Student Self-Assessment in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 59: 365 (

Andrade, H., and Du, Y. (2007). Student responses to criteria-referenced self-assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32 (2), 159–181.

Andrade, H. and Valtcheva, A. (2009). Promoting Learning and Achievement Through Self-Assessment. Theory Into Practice, 48, 12-19.

Berdrow, I. and Evers, F.T. (2011). Bases of Competence: A Framework for Facilitating Reflective Learner-Centered Educational Environments. Journal of Management Education, 35(3), 406-427.

Fei, S.M., Lu, G.D. and Shi, Y.D. (2007). Using Multi-Mode Assessments to Engage Engineering Students in Their Learning Experience. European Journal of Engineering Education, 32 (2), 219-226.

McDonald, B. (2010). Improving Learning Through Meta Assessment. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11 (2), 119-129.

Sitzman, T., Ely, K., Brown, K.G., Bauer, K.N. (2010). Self-Assessment of Knowledge: A Cognitive Learning or Affective Measure. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 9 (2), 169-191.

Svinicki, M. and McKeachie, W.J. (2011). McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Stevens, D and Levi, A. (2005). Introduction to Rubrics. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. (Brief overview may be accessed at