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15 Self-Assessment Examples for Students

self-assessment examples and definition, explained below

Self-assessment is when we analyze our own behavior. It is a way for us to understand how we are doing at something.

People who self-assess will examine their current level of performance on a given dimension in order to see how they can improve.

We can compare our performance to a known standard or our own set of goals. That evaluation will enable us to identify our strengths and weaknesses, and help us chart a path of progress.

Self-assessment can be applied in just about any context. For example, we can assess our level of fitness, how we perform during a job interview, or if we are easy to work with, or not.

Definition of Self-Assessment

Brown and Harris (2013, p. 368) defined self-assessment in a school context as a “descriptive and evaluative act carried out by the student concerning his or her own work and academic abilities” . 

Making a judgment regarding our own abilities is easier said than done. If we want to know the truth, then we need an objective assessment.

That’s not easy to do when it comes to our own performance, because:

  • Some people may have a positive bias about their abilities and give themselves high ratings when that might not be deserved.
  • Other people are very critical of themselves and may be overly harsh.  

Ideally, evaluations should come from professionals with a lot of training and experience. However, that’s not always convenient and it can also be expensive. So, although self-assessments are not ideal, they are very practical.

Student Self-Assessment Examples

1. keeping a diary.

If you’re not sure how to self-assess, the first step could be to keep a diary of what you’ve been doing. This is a form of personal reflection that allows you to pause and assess your progress.

There are also some great self-assessment diaries out there, such as the various reflective teaching diaries, that provide prompting questions such as “what is your mood right now?” and “what’s something you did that you were proud of today?”

These moments of self-reflection also act as moments of self-assessment . While you reflect, you also pause to assess your actions and what you could have done differently to change outcomes next time. In this process, you can learn to more effectively self-regulate and incrementally improve.

2. Self-Reflection After a Meeting

None of us want to be labeled as “difficult” or “lazy”. So, after a meeting, it is a good idea to take a few moments and reflect on how we did. Were we attentive? Did we participate enough, or did we talk too much? Were we argumentative and unreasonable, or did we make constructive comments?

One of the most difficult challenges of work is getting along with colleagues. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone wants to pursue their own agenda.

In addition to that, everyone has a different personality. Some of those personalities might be difficult to deal with, day in and day out.

So, understanding how we are to work with is important.

Work consumes most of our lives. Having a successful career is essential to so many other aspects of our happiness. Therefore, reflecting on how we act in meetings can go a long way to helping us be more respectful and conciliatory.

See More: Self-Reflection Examples

3. Recording Your Presentation at Work

One form of self-assessment that can be extremely valuable is to record our presentations. It can be a sales pitch or product proposal, or just about anything else. There is probably no better way to evaluate our performance than recording it.

We can make observations about our intonation and rate of speech, in addition to our posture and any odd mannerisms we might exhibit. Of course, we can ask a trusted colleague to watch and give us a few insights as well.

Surprisingly, based on some research findings, there may not always be agreement between our self-assessment and what our peers think (Campbell et al., 2001).  

4. Filming your Sports Performance

In the same way that you can record a business presentation, you can also record yourself participating in sports to watch it back.

In fact, professional sportspeople and their coaches like tennis players, football players, and baseball batters will all film themselves to see how they performed.

They might be looking at their stance in tennis to see if they’ve got the right posture. In baseball, they may be looking at the position of the shoulders and elbows when the batter swings his bat. These observations can help shape a sportsperson’s self-concept so they have a realistic idea of their abilities.

By watching their actions, the sportspeople can assess their own actions and see themselves from a new perspective. It gives them the opportunity to see things about their actions that they couldn’t see in the moment.

5. Tracking Your Gym Workouts

Recording your daily workouts at the gym is another form of self-assessment. This will help you assess your current status and also help you become aware of your rate of progress.

Back in the old days, people used to carry clipboards around with them at the gym. After finishing each set, they would write down how much weight they lifted and the number of reps. It was also a good excuse to take a breather.

Of course, in this century, there’s an APP for that. Instead of using a paper worksheet and wooden pencil that was made by killing trees and destroys the environment, you can use an electronic version on your smartphone that was made with rare earth minerals and child labor.  

6. Tracking Personal Growth 

Personal growth is a long-term process. The goal is to make continuous progress over time. That can mean months or even years.

Over time, we can continuously make improvements in our sense of well-being, state of mind, or even our spirituality. 

Assessing your personal growth can be on any dimension of life you want. It can be about our sense of well-being, our level of knowledge, level of spirituality, or anything else that is deeply important to you.

First, you determine where you are now and where you want to be in the future. This will help you identify your goals and set targets. Make sure that your targets are realistic and feasible, and phrased in a way that is measurable. For example, don’t just say that you “want to learn more about history.” Instead, say that your goal is to take a university course or read two books on the Roman Empire.

Phrasing your personal growth goal in a concrete manner makes them easy to determine if they have been accomplished or not. Furthermore, when they are accomplished, you can see it, and this will help you build your own self-efficacy .

7. Using a Fitness App

There are so many fitness apps available today that you can find one, or a couple thousand, that will suit your needs just fine.

Generally speaking, these apps fall into one of three categories: nutrition, workout, and activity.

These apps will allow you to become more aware of your nutritional intake, chart your progress at the gym, or record how long and how far you walk or run. Fitness apps are a great way to assess if you are making progress on any of these health dimensions, or if you are just maintaining the status quo .

It’s an example of elf-assessment in the palm of your hand.

8. Participating in a Mock Job Interview

Before going into a job interview, people will often practice in a mock interview to self-assess their performance in order to improve before the big event!

Job interviews can be a bit stressful. There is a lot riding on your performance, especially if it is for a job that you really want. Plus, you only have one shot. If you fail the first interview, you will not get called back for another.

Many universities have career centers that offer students an opportunity to receive valuable coaching regarding their job interview performance. This involves going through a mock interview with an experienced professional.

Afterward, the coach and student will discuss the results together. Participating in a mock interview is a fantastic way to assess your strengths and weaknesses, and just might help you land a great job.

9. Comparing Your Work with Others  

One of the best ways to know how good you are is by comparing your performance with others. This is a kind of self-assessment by way of social comparison.

For example, after spending a ton of time on an essay, it is easy to be so immersed in it that you lose objectivity. You may think that you have really nailed it. However, instead of waiting to get the essay back from your teacher, it is a good idea to see an example of a paper that was already completed and evaluated as being very good.

You can then compare and contrast that essay with yours . Maybe the literature review in the really good essay went into much more detail than you thought was necessary. Or, maybe it contained charts and graphs that yours did not.

This form of self-assessment can be very informative.

10. Hiring a Life Coach

A life coach is an expert on helping people get the most out of their lives. A life coach can help someone improve their career, romantic relationship, or even offer advice on how to handle day-do-day affairs.

Every life coach is different, but generally speaking they will construct a very holistic assessment of a client by conducting in-depth conversations with them and maybe even make direct observations over an extended period of time. This will give them enough information to make suggestions and provide guidance. They will even take their services one step further and help the client implement those changes.  

So, if you are looking for a comprehensive assessment of your life, something that is also very practical and forward-looking, then a life coach may be exactly what you need.

11. Career Aptitude Test  

A career aptitude test is a simple questionnaire that asks about your interests, values, skills, and personality characteristics. It then uses that data to identify different careers that would be a good match to your profile.

It is a great self-assessment tool that can offer some career guidance. You can discover which professions are most suited to your unique profile. The results can be surprising. You just might discover that people like you do very well in a certain job you would have never considered before.

These sorts of self-assessments are often given to students graduating from high school. High school students are at a phase in their life where a decision about what sort of career they want to do is at the front of mind. So, it’s the perfect time to take one of these tests.

12. Taking the Big Five Personality Traits Inventory

A personality trait is a consistent way that a person acts and feels. The Big Five personality traits are considered to be the most commonly occurring. They consist of: extroversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness , and neuroticism. Everyone has these 5 traits to one degree or another.

Research has investigated how these traits relate to an incredibly wide range of subject matter, from leadership style to quality of romantic relationships and everything in between. Not only are the Big Five consistent across diverse cultures, but they have considerable stability across the lifespan as well (Rantanen et al., 2007).

Fortunately, there are many versions of this inventory available online. Most have reasonable reliability and validity. So, if you wish to conduct a personality self-assessment, there are many options to choose from.

13. Using a Wellness Wheel

A Wellness Wheel is a form of self-assessment that examines all aspects of our life. Most wheels include seven dimensions: spiritual, emotional, professional, intellectual, social, physical, and environmental.

Wellness wheels are very popular because they can provide a snapshot of our current status from a broad perspective.

By examining the status of our life on these seven dimensions, we can increase our self-awareness . If that analysis leads to the conclusion that we need change, then the wellness wheel will show us wear to focus most of our effort.

The Wellness Wheel is an example of a very holistic approach to self-assessment. It doesn’t require a trained professional either, and many versions are available online.

14. Metacognitive Strategies

Metacognition refers to the act of thinking about thinking. It requires you to reflect on how you went about a task and identify pros, cons, and alternatives to the way you went about the task.

For example, if you had just had an argument with a friend, metacognition might involve reflecting on how you lost your cool and started saying things you regretted. You can think about why you followed that thought path, and how you might have been able to de-fuse the situation in the future.

Another example is reflecting on your own learning style. You may have tried to study for a test using reading, leading to a poor test score. Upon reflection, you may realize you were getting very tired when reading; and as a result, next time you are going to try to study by watching lecture videos instead of reading.

15. Taking a Myers-Briggs Test

A Myers-Briggs test is a personality test that can help you to understand your own personality and the personalities of others.

The test assesses you against 16 different personality types, and each type has its own strengths and weaknesses.

The Myers-Briggs test can help you to find out your own personality type, and it can also be used to improve communication and team work by understanding the different strengths and weaknesses of each personality type.

Thus, while the tool is doing the assessment, by self-administering this test, you’re actually self-evaluating in order to learn more about yourself and how you interact with the people around you.

Self-assessment can help us get a better handle on where we are in life or in our profession. Examining our status quo can help us identify our strengths and the areas that we should try to improve.

Self-assessment comes in many forms. It can include modern technology such as fitness apps, or old-school tech like making a video recording. There are also forms that don’t involve any technology at all. Hiring a real live person to be your life coach may be a bit pricey, but it is a long-term strategy that can be personal and totally centered on your needs.

No matter your preference or goals, there are many self-assessment methods available.

Andrade HL (2019) A Critical Review of Research on Student Self-Assessment. Frontiers in Education, 4(87). https://doi.org/10.3389/feduc.2019.00087

Brown, G. T., and Harris, L. R. (2013). Student self-assessment. In J. H. McMillan (Ed.), Sage Handbook of Research on Classroom Assessment , pp. 367-393. Los Angeles, CA: Sage. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781452218649.n21

Campbell, K. S., Mothersbaugh, D. L., Brammer, C., & Taylor, T. (2001). Peer versus self- assessment of oral business presentation performance. Business Communication Quarterly , 64 (3). https://doi.org/10.1177/108056990106400303

John, O. P., & Srivastava, S. (1999). The Big-Five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (Vol. 2, pp. 102–138). New York: Guilford Press.

Muntaner-Mas, A., Martinez-Nicolas, A., Lavie, C.J. et al. (2019). A systematic review of fitness apps and their potential clinical and sports utility for objective and remote assessment of cardiorespiratory fitness. Sports Medicine, 49 , 587–600. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-019-01084-y

Rantanen, J., Metsäpelto, R. L., Feldt, T., Pulkkinen, L. E. A., & Kokko, K. (2007). Long‐term stability in the Big Five personality traits in adulthood. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology , 48 (6), 511-518. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9450.2007.00609.x

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Dave Cornell (PhD)

Dr. Cornell has worked in education for more than 20 years. His work has involved designing teacher certification for Trinity College in London and in-service training for state governments in the United States. He has trained kindergarten teachers in 8 countries and helped businessmen and women open baby centers and kindergartens in 3 countries.

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Ultimate guide to writing a self-evaluation essay, carla johnson.

  • June 14, 2023
  • Essay Topics and Ideas , How to Guides

Self-evaluation essays are a type of writing assignment that asks people to think about their own skills, accomplishments, and performance. The goal of a self-evaluation essay is to give a full picture of one’s own strengths and weaknesses so that areas for improvement can be found and goals for personal and professional growth can be set.

Self-evaluation essays are an important part of both personal and professional growth. They give people a chance to think about how they’ve done and set goals for the future . By thinking about themselves, people can learn more about their strengths and weaknesses and make a plan for continuing to grow and get better.

In this complete guide to writing a self-evaluation essay, we’ll look at the most important parts , such as planning, writing, and editing. We’ll also give you advice on how to come up with ideas and organize them, as well as how to think about your own performance and what you’ve done well. By the end of this guide, readers will have the skills and knowledge they need to write effective and meaningful self-evaluation essays in a variety of situations.

What You'll Learn

Elements of a Self Evaluation Essay

A self evaluation essay typically includes the following elements:

1. The purpose of a self evaluation essay: The goal of a self-evaluation essay is to give a full picture of your skills, accomplishments, and areas where you can improve. In the essay, you should be honest and thoughtful about your own performance and set goals for personal and professional growth.

2. Reflection and self-assessment: A self evaluation essay requires individuals to reflect on their own performance and accomplishments. This may include reflecting on past experiences , identifying areas for improvement, and setting goals for the future.

3. Identification of strengths and weaknesses: In a self-evaluation essay, it’s important to talk about both your strengths and weaknesses. This could mean talking about what has been done well and what needs to be improved.

4. Goals and objectives for personal growth: In a self-evaluation essay, you should list specific goals and objectives for your own and your career’s growth. This could mean setting goals to improve skills, move up in your career, or take care of your own health .

5. Evidence and examples to support claims: The claims in a self-evaluation essay should be backed up by evidence and examples. This can include specific examples of accomplishments, feedback from others, or data to back up claims about skills or accomplishments.

Preparing to Write a Self Evaluation Essay

Before you start writing a self-evaluation essay, you should prepare by gathering information and evidence, coming up with ideas, and writing down your goals and objectives. Here are some tips for getting ready to write an essay about yourself:

1. Gathering information and evidence: Before you start writing, make sure you have all the information or proof you need to back up your claims. This could be your past performance reviews, comments from coworkers, or information about what you’ve done.

2. Brainstorming and outlining: Before you start writing, give yourself time to think of ideas and put them in order. Make a plan that includes the most important parts of a self-evaluation essay, such as reflection, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, and setting goals for your own growth.

3. Identifying goals and objectives: Before you start writing, you should set specific goals for your personal and professional growth. This could mean setting goals to improve skills, move up in your career, or take care of your own health.

4. Choosing a format and structure: Choose how your self-evaluation essay will look and be put together. This could mean choosing a chronological or thematic approach, or using a certain format or template.

By taking the time to prepare and gather information, individuals can write more effective and meaningful self evaluation essays that accurately reflect their own performance and accomplishments.

Writing a Self Evaluation Essay

When writing a self evaluation essay , it is important to follow a clear structure that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The following tips can help you to write an effective self evaluation essay:

1. Introduction: Begin with a hook that grabs the reader’s attention and provides context for the essay . Introduce the purpose of the essay and provide a thesis statement that summarizes your main argument.

2. Body paragraphs: The body of the essay should include several paragraphs that address different aspects of your performance, skills, and accomplishments. Use specific examples and evidence to support your claims and provide a clear and detailed reflection on your own performance.

3. Conclusion: Summarize your main points and restate your thesis statement. End with a statement that reflects on what you have learned from the self evaluation process and outlines your goals for personal and professional growth.

4. Tone and style: Use a professional and objective tone when writing a self evaluation essay. Avoid using overly emotional or defensive language, and focus on providing an honest and thoughtful reflection on your own performance.

5. Grammar and mechanics: Pay careful attention to grammar, mechanics, and spelling when writing a self evaluation essay. Use clear and concise language, and proofread your essay carefully to ensure that it is error-free.

Self Evaluation Essay Examples

To better understand how to write a self evaluation essay, it can be helpful to examine examples of effective essays . Here are some key takeaways from successfulself evaluation essays:

1. Sample self evaluation essay: A sample self evaluation essay can provide a helpful template for structuring your own essay. Look for essays that focus on specific goals or accomplishments, and use them as a guide for organizing your own essay.

2. Analysis of effective self evaluation essays: Analyze effective self evaluation essays to identify the key elements that make them successful. Look for essays that provide specific examples and evidence to support claims , and that offer a clear and honest reflection on strengths and weaknesses.

3. Key takeaways from successful self evaluation essays : Successful self evaluation essays typically include a clear and well-structured introduction, detailed body paragraphs that provide specific examples and evidence, and a thoughtful conclusion that reflects on what has been learned and sets goals for future growth.

By studying examples of effective self evaluation essays and applying the tips and strategies outlined in this guide, individuals can write more effective and meaningful self evaluation essays that accurately reflect their own performance, skills, and accomplishments.

Self Evaluation Essay Topics

When choosing a topic for a self evaluation essay , consider areas where you have experienced personal growth, challenges, or accomplishments. Here are some potential topics to consider:

1. Personal achievements and challenges: Write about a personal achievement or challenge that you have experienced, and reflect on what you learned from the experience.

2. Educational and career goals: Write about your educational or career goals, and reflect on the progress you have made toward achieving them.

3. Personal growth and development: Write about a specific area where you have experienced personal growth and development, such as communication skills or leadership abilities.

4. Strengths and weaknesses: Write about your strengths and weaknesses, and reflect on how they have impacted your personal and professional life.

5. Critical reflection on experiences: Write about a specific experience that has had a significant impact on your life, and reflect on what you have learned from the experience.

Self Evaluation Essay Outline

A clear and well-organized outline is essential for writing an effective self evaluation essay . Here are some tips for creating an effective outline:

1. Basic outline structure: Your outline should include an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

2. Tips for creating an effective outline: Start by brainstorming and organizing your thoughts into a logical sequence. Use bullet points or short phrases to outline the key ideas in each section of your essay . Make sure that your outline includes specific examples and evidence to support your claims.

3. Examples of selfevaluation essay outlines: Here is an example of a basic outline structure for a self evaluation essay:

I. Introduction

   A. Hook

   B. Context

   C. Thesis statement

II. Body Paragraphs

   A. Reflection on personal achievements and challenges

      1. Examples and evidence to support claims

      2. Reflection on what was learned

   B. Discussion of educational and career goals

      1. Progress made toward achieving goals

      2. Reflection on areas for improvement

   C. Analysis of personal growth and development

      1. Specific areas of growth

      2. Reflection on how growth has impacted personal and professional life

   D. Identification of strengths and weaknesses

      1. Discussion of strengths and how they have contributed to success

      2. Discussion of weaknesses and how they have been addressed

   E. Critical reflection on experiences

      1. Discussion of a specific experience

      2. Reflection on what was learned from the experience

III. Conclusion

   A. Summary of main points

   B. Reflection on what was learned from the self evaluation process

   C. Goals for personal and professional growth

By following a clear and well-organized outline, individuals can write more effective and meaningful self evaluation essays that accurately reflect their own performance, skills, and accomplishments.

Self Evaluation Essay Thesis

An important part of a self-evaluation essay is a thesis statement. It gives a clear and concise summary of the main point or argument of the essay and helps the reader figure out what to do with the rest of the essay. Here are some tips for writing a strong thesis statement for a self-evaluation essay:

1. Purpose and importance of a thesis statement : The purpose of a thesis statement is to provide a roadmap for the rest of the essay. It should convey the main argument or focus of the essay , and provide a clear and concise summary of the key points that will be discussed.

2. Tips for crafting a strong thesis statement: To craft a strong thesis statement, start by brainstorming and organizing your thoughts. Identify the key themes or ideas that will be discussed in the essay , and use these to craft a clear and concise thesis statement. Make sure that your thesis statement is specific, focused, and relevant to the topic of the essay .

3. Examples of effective self evaluation essay thesis: Here are some examples of effective thesis statements for self evaluation essays:

– “Through reflecting on my personal achievements and challenges, I have gained a deeper understanding of my own strengths and weaknesses, and have identified opportunities for personal and professional growth.”

– “My educational and career goals have been shaped by my experiences and accomplishments, and I am committed to continuing to develop my skills and knowledge in order to achieve these goals.

– “Through engaging in critical reflection on my experiences, Ihave gained a greater appreciation for the value of personal growth and development, and have identified specific areas where I can continue to improve.”

Self Evaluation Essay Structure

A successful self evaluation essay should follow a clear and well-structured format. Here are some tips for structuring a successful self evaluation essay:

1. Introduction: The introduction should include a hook that grabs the reader’s attention, provide context for the essay, and include a clear and concise thesis statement that summarizes the main argument or focus of the essay .

2. Body paragraphs: The body of the essay should include several paragraphs that address different aspects of your performance, skills, and accomplishments. Use specific examples and evidence to support your claims, and provide a clear and detailed reflection on your own performance.

3. Conclusion: The conclusion should summarize the main points of the essay , restate the thesis statement, and provide a thoughtful reflection on what has been learned from the self evaluation process. It should also include goals for personal and professional growth.

4. Tips for structuring a successful self evaluation essay: To structure a successful self evaluation essay, organize your thoughts into a clear and logical sequence. Use specific examples and evidence to support your claims, and make sure that each paragraph focuses on a specific aspect of your performance or experience. Use transitions to connect ideas and ensure that the essay flows smoothly.

By following these tips and structuring your self evaluation essay in a clear and well-organized format, you can write an effective and meaningful essay that accuratelyreflects your own performance and accomplishments.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. what is a self evaluation essay.

A self-evaluation essay is a piece of writing in which the writer thinks about their own skills, accomplishments, and performance. The goal of a self-evaluation essay is to give a full picture of one’s own strengths and weaknesses so that areas for improvement can be found and goals for personal and professional growth can be set.

2. What are the elements of a self evaluation essay?

A self-evaluation essay usually includes reflection and self-assessment, identification of strengths and weaknesses, goals and objectives for personal growth, evidence and examples to support claims, and a clear and well-organized structure.

3. How do I choose a topic for a self evaluation essay?

When choosing a topic for a self-evaluation essay, think about areas in which you’ve grown, faced challenges, or done well. Personal successes and problems, educational and career goals, personal growth and development, strengths and weaknesses, and a critical look back on experiences are all possible topics .

4. How do I structure a self evaluation essay?

The format of a self-evaluation essay should be clear and well-structured, with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should have a hook, set the scene for the essay , and have a clear statement of the essay’s main point. The body of the essay should have several paragraphs that talk about different parts of your performance, skills, and accomplishments. The conclusion should summarize the main points of the essay and give goals for personal and professional growth.

5. What are some tips for writing a successful self evaluation essay?

Some tips for writing a good self-evaluation essay include gathering information and evidence, coming up with ideas and making an outline, identifying goals and objectives, using a professional and objective tone, paying attention to grammar and mechanics, and using specific examples and evidence to support claims.

Writing a self-evaluation essay can help you improve as a person and as a worker. By thinking about your own performance, skills, and accomplishments, you can learn more about your strengths and weaknesses and set goals for continuing to grow and get better. To write a good self-evaluation essay, you should stick to a clear and well-organized structure, use a professional and objective tone, and back up your claims with specific examples and evidence.

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Systematic review article, a critical review of research on student self-assessment.

self assessment essay conclusion

  • Educational Psychology and Methodology, University at Albany, Albany, NY, United States

This article is a review of research on student self-assessment conducted largely between 2013 and 2018. The purpose of the review is to provide an updated overview of theory and research. The treatment of theory involves articulating a refined definition and operationalization of self-assessment. The review of 76 empirical studies offers a critical perspective on what has been investigated, including the relationship between self-assessment and achievement, consistency of self-assessment and others' assessments, student perceptions of self-assessment, and the association between self-assessment and self-regulated learning. An argument is made for less research on consistency and summative self-assessment, and more on the cognitive and affective mechanisms of formative self-assessment.

This review of research on student self-assessment expands on a review published as a chapter in the Cambridge Handbook of Instructional Feedback ( Andrade, 2018 , reprinted with permission). The timespan for the original review was January 2013 to October 2016. A lot of research has been done on the subject since then, including at least two meta-analyses; hence this expanded review, in which I provide an updated overview of theory and research. The treatment of theory presented here involves articulating a refined definition and operationalization of self-assessment through a lens of feedback. My review of the growing body of empirical research offers a critical perspective, in the interest of provoking new investigations into neglected areas.

Defining and Operationalizing Student Self-Assessment

Without exception, reviews of self-assessment ( Sargeant, 2008 ; Brown and Harris, 2013 ; Panadero et al., 2016a ) call for clearer definitions: What is self-assessment, and what is not? This question is surprisingly difficult to answer, as the term self-assessment has been used to describe a diverse range of activities, such as assigning a happy or sad face to a story just told, estimating the number of correct answers on a math test, graphing scores for dart throwing, indicating understanding (or the lack thereof) of a science concept, using a rubric to identify strengths and weaknesses in one's persuasive essay, writing reflective journal entries, and so on. Each of those activities involves some kind of assessment of one's own functioning, but they are so different that distinctions among types of self-assessment are needed. I will draw those distinctions in terms of the purposes of self-assessment which, in turn, determine its features: a classic form-fits-function analysis.

What is Self-Assessment?

Brown and Harris (2013) defined self-assessment in the K-16 context as a “descriptive and evaluative act carried out by the student concerning his or her own work and academic abilities” (p. 368). Panadero et al. (2016a) defined it as a “wide variety of mechanisms and techniques through which students describe (i.e., assess) and possibly assign merit or worth to (i.e., evaluate) the qualities of their own learning processes and products” (p. 804). Referring to physicians, Epstein et al. (2008) defined “concurrent self-assessment” as “ongoing moment-to-moment self-monitoring” (p. 5). Self-monitoring “refers to the ability to notice our own actions, curiosity to examine the effects of those actions, and willingness to use those observations to improve behavior and thinking in the future” (p. 5). Taken together, these definitions include self-assessment of one's abilities, processes , and products —everything but the kitchen sink. This very broad conception might seem unwieldy, but it works because each object of assessment—competence, process, and product—is subject to the influence of feedback from oneself.

What is missing from each of these definitions, however, is the purpose of the act of self-assessment. Their authors might rightly point out that the purpose is implied, but a formal definition requires us to make it plain: Why do we ask students to self-assess? I have long held that self-assessment is feedback ( Andrade, 2010 ), and that the purpose of feedback is to inform adjustments to processes and products that deepen learning and enhance performance; hence the purpose of self-assessment is to generate feedback that promotes learning and improvements in performance. This learning-oriented purpose of self-assessment implies that it should be formative: if there is no opportunity for adjustment and correction, self-assessment is almost pointless.

Why Self-Assess?

Clarity about the purpose of self-assessment allows us to interpret what otherwise appear to be discordant findings from research, which has produced mixed results in terms of both the accuracy of students' self-assessments and their influence on learning and/or performance. I believe the source of the discord can be traced to the different ways in which self-assessment is carried out, such as whether it is summative and formative. This issue will be taken up again in the review of current research that follows this overview. For now, consider a study of the accuracy and validity of summative self-assessment in teacher education conducted by Tejeiro et al. (2012) , which showed that students' self-assigned marks tended to be higher than marks given by professors. All 122 students in the study assigned themselves a grade at the end of their course, but half of the students were told that their self-assigned grade would count toward 5% of their final grade. In both groups, students' self-assessments were higher than grades given by professors, especially for students with “poorer results” (p. 791) and those for whom self-assessment counted toward the final grade. In the group that was told their self-assessments would count toward their final grade, no relationship was found between the professor's and the students' assessments. Tejeiro et al. concluded that, although students' and professor's assessments tend to be highly similar when self-assessment did not count toward final grades, overestimations increased dramatically when students' self-assessments did count. Interviews of students who self-assigned highly discrepant grades revealed (as you might guess) that they were motivated by the desire to obtain the highest possible grades.

Studies like Tejeiro et al's. (2012) are interesting in terms of the information they provide about the relationship between consistency and honesty, but the purpose of the self-assessment, beyond addressing interesting research questions, is unclear. There is no feedback purpose. This is also true for another example of a study of summative self-assessment of competence, during which elementary-school children took the Test of Narrative Language and then were asked to self-evaluate “how you did in making up stories today” by pointing to one of five pictures, from a “very happy face” (rating of five) to a “very sad face” (rating of one) ( Kaderavek et al., 2004 . p. 37). The usual results were reported: Older children and good narrators were more accurate than younger children and poor narrators, and males tended to more frequently overestimate their ability.

Typical of clinical studies of accuracy in self-evaluation, this study rests on a definition and operationalization of self-assessment with no value in terms of instructional feedback. If those children were asked to rate their stories and then revise or, better yet, if they assessed their stories according to clear, developmentally appropriate criteria before revising, the valence of their self-assessments in terms of instructional feedback would skyrocket. I speculate that their accuracy would too. In contrast, studies of formative self-assessment suggest that when the act of self-assessing is given a learning-oriented purpose, students' self-assessments are relatively consistent with those of external evaluators, including professors ( Lopez and Kossack, 2007 ; Barney et al., 2012 ; Leach, 2012 ), teachers ( Bol et al., 2012 ; Chang et al., 2012 , 2013 ), researchers ( Panadero and Romero, 2014 ; Fitzpatrick and Schulz, 2016 ), and expert medical assessors ( Hawkins et al., 2012 ).

My commitment to keeping self-assessment formative is firm. However, Gavin Brown (personal communication, April 2011) reminded me that summative self-assessment exists and we cannot ignore it; any definition of self-assessment must acknowledge and distinguish between formative and summative forms of it. Thus, the taxonomy in Table 1 , which depicts self-assessment as serving formative and/or summative purposes, and focuses on competence, processes, and/or products.

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Table 1 . A taxonomy of self-assessment.

Fortunately, a formative view of self-assessment seems to be taking hold in various educational contexts. For instance, Sargeant (2008) noted that all seven authors in a special issue of the Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions “conceptualize self-assessment within a formative, educational perspective, and see it as an activity that draws upon both external and internal data, standards, and resources to inform and make decisions about one's performance” (p. 1). Sargeant also stresses the point that self-assessment should be guided by evaluative criteria: “Multiple external sources can and should inform self-assessment, perhaps most important among them performance standards” (p. 1). Now we are talking about the how of self-assessment, which demands an operationalization of self-assessment practice. Let us examine each object of self-assessment (competence, processes, and/or products) with an eye for what is assessed and why.

What is Self-Assessed?

Monitoring and self-assessing processes are practically synonymous with self-regulated learning (SRL), or at least central components of it such as goal-setting and monitoring, or metacognition. Research on SRL has clearly shown that self-generated feedback on one's approach to learning is associated with academic gains ( Zimmerman and Schunk, 2011 ). Self-assessment of the products , such as papers and presentations, are the easiest to defend as feedback, especially when those self-assessments are grounded in explicit, relevant, evaluative criteria and followed by opportunities to relearn and/or revise ( Andrade, 2010 ).

Including the self-assessment of competence in this definition is a little trickier. I hesitated to include it because of the risk of sneaking in global assessments of one's overall ability, self-esteem, and self-concept (“I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me,” Franken, 1992 ), which do not seem relevant to a discussion of feedback in the context of learning. Research on global self-assessment, or self-perception, is popular in the medical education literature, but even there, scholars have begun to question its usefulness in terms of influencing learning and professional growth (e.g., see Sargeant et al., 2008 ). Eva and Regehr (2008) seem to agree in the following passage, which states the case in a way that makes it worthy of a long quotation:

Self-assessment is often (implicitly or otherwise) conceptualized as a personal, unguided reflection on performance for the purposes of generating an individually derived summary of one's own level of knowledge, skill, and understanding in a particular area. For example, this conceptualization would appear to be the only reasonable basis for studies that fit into what Colliver et al. (2005) has described as the “guess your grade” model of self-assessment research, the results of which form the core foundation for the recurring conclusion that self-assessment is generally poor. This unguided, internally generated construction of self-assessment stands in stark contrast to the model put forward by Boud (1999) , who argued that the phrase self-assessment should not imply an isolated or individualistic activity; it should commonly involve peers, teachers, and other sources of information. The conceptualization of self-assessment as enunciated in Boud's description would appear to involve a process by which one takes personal responsibility for looking outward, explicitly seeking feedback, and information from external sources, then using these externally generated sources of assessment data to direct performance improvements. In this construction, self-assessment is more of a pedagogical strategy than an ability to judge for oneself; it is a habit that one needs to acquire and enact rather than an ability that one needs to master (p. 15).

As in the K-16 context, self-assessment is coming to be seen as having value as much or more so in terms of pedagogy as in assessment ( Silver et al., 2008 ; Brown and Harris, 2014 ). In the end, however, I decided that self-assessing one's competence to successfully learn a particular concept or complete a particular task (which sounds a lot like self-efficacy—more on that later) might be useful feedback because it can inform decisions about how to proceed, such as the amount of time to invest in learning how to play the flute, or whether or not to seek help learning the steps of the jitterbug. An important caveat, however, is that self-assessments of competence are only useful if students have opportunities to do something about their perceived low competence—that is, it serves the purpose of formative feedback for the learner.

How to Self-Assess?

Panadero et al. (2016a) summarized five very different taxonomies of self-assessment and called for the development of a comprehensive typology that considers, among other things, its purpose, the presence or absence of criteria, and the method. In response, I propose the taxonomy depicted in Table 1 , which focuses on the what (competence, process, or product), the why (formative or summative), and the how (methods, including whether or not they include standards, e.g., criteria) of self-assessment. The collections of examples of methods in the table is inexhaustive.

I put the methods in Table 1 where I think they belong, but many of them could be placed in more than one cell. Take self-efficacy , for instance, which is essentially a self-assessment of one's competence to successfully undertake a particular task ( Bandura, 1997 ). Summative judgments of self-efficacy are certainly possible but they seem like a silly thing to do—what is the point, from a learning perspective? Formative self-efficacy judgments, on the other hand, can inform next steps in learning and skill building. There is reason to believe that monitoring and making adjustments to one's self-efficacy (e.g., by setting goals or attributing success to effort) can be productive ( Zimmerman, 2000 ), so I placed self-efficacy in the formative row.

It is important to emphasize that self-efficacy is task-specific, more or less ( Bandura, 1997 ). This taxonomy does not include general, holistic evaluations of one's abilities, for example, “I am good at math.” Global assessment of competence does not provide the leverage, in terms of feedback, that is provided by task-specific assessments of competence, that is, self-efficacy. Eva and Regehr (2008) provided an illustrative example: “We suspect most people are prompted to open a dictionary as a result of encountering a word for which they are uncertain of the meaning rather than out of a broader assessment that their vocabulary could be improved” (p. 16). The exclusion of global evaluations of oneself resonates with research that clearly shows that feedback that focuses on aspects of a task (e.g., “I did not solve most of the algebra problems”) is more effective than feedback that focuses on the self (e.g., “I am bad at math”) ( Kluger and DeNisi, 1996 ; Dweck, 2006 ; Hattie and Timperley, 2007 ). Hence, global self-evaluations of ability or competence do not appear in Table 1 .

Another approach to student self-assessment that could be placed in more than one cell is traffic lights . The term traffic lights refers to asking students to use green, yellow, or red objects (or thumbs up, sideways, or down—anything will do) to indicate whether they think they have good, partial, or little understanding ( Black et al., 2003 ). It would be appropriate for traffic lights to appear in multiple places in Table 1 , depending on how they are used. Traffic lights seem to be most effective at supporting students' reflections on how well they understand a concept or have mastered a skill, which is line with their creators' original intent, so they are categorized as formative self-assessments of one's learning—which sounds like metacognition.

In fact, several of the methods included in Table 1 come from research on metacognition, including self-monitoring , such as checking one's reading comprehension, and self-testing , e.g., checking one's performance on test items. These last two methods have been excluded from some taxonomies of self-assessment (e.g., Boud and Brew, 1995 ) because they do not engage students in explicitly considering relevant standards or criteria. However, new conceptions of self-assessment are grounded in theories of the self- and co-regulation of learning ( Andrade and Brookhart, 2016 ), which includes self-monitoring of learning processes with and without explicit standards.

However, my research favors self-assessment with regard to standards ( Andrade and Boulay, 2003 ; Andrade and Du, 2007 ; Andrade et al., 2008 , 2009 , 2010 ), as does related research by Panadero and his colleagues (see below). I have involved students in self-assessment of stories, essays, or mathematical word problems according to rubrics or checklists with criteria. For example, two studies investigated the relationship between elementary or middle school students' scores on a written assignment and a process that involved them in reading a model paper, co-creating criteria, self-assessing first drafts with a rubric, and revising ( Andrade et al., 2008 , 2010 ). The self-assessment was highly scaffolded: students were asked to underline key phrases in the rubric with colored pencils (e.g., underline “clearly states an opinion” in blue), then underline or circle in their drafts the evidence of having met the standard articulated by the phrase (e.g., his or her opinion) with the same blue pencil. If students found they had not met the standard, they were asked to write themselves a reminder to make improvements when they wrote their final drafts. This process was followed for each criterion on the rubric. There were main effects on scores for every self-assessed criterion on the rubric, suggesting that guided self-assessment according to the co-created criteria helped students produce more effective writing.

Panadero and his colleagues have also done quasi-experimental and experimental research on standards-referenced self-assessment, using rubrics or lists of assessment criteria that are presented in the form of questions ( Panadero et al., 2012 , 2013 , 2014 ; Panadero and Romero, 2014 ). Panadero calls the list of assessment criteria a script because his work is grounded in research on scaffolding (e.g., Kollar et al., 2006 ): I call it a checklist because that is the term used in classroom assessment contexts. Either way, the list provides standards for the task. Here is a script for a written summary that Panadero et al. (2014) used with college students in a psychology class:

• Does my summary transmit the main idea from the text? Is it at the beginning of my summary?

• Are the important ideas also in my summary?

• Have I selected the main ideas from the text to make them explicit in my summary?

• Have I thought about my purpose for the summary? What is my goal?

Taken together, the results of the studies cited above suggest that students who engaged in self-assessment using scripts or rubrics were more self-regulated, as measured by self-report questionnaires and/or think aloud protocols, than were students in the comparison or control groups. Effect sizes were very small to moderate (η 2 = 0.06–0.42), and statistically significant. Most interesting, perhaps, is one study ( Panadero and Romero, 2014 ) that demonstrated an association between rubric-referenced self-assessment activities and all three phases of SRL; forethought, performance, and reflection.

There are surely many other methods of self-assessment to include in Table 1 , as well as interesting conversations to be had about which method goes where and why. In the meantime, I offer the taxonomy in Table 1 as a way to define and operationalize self-assessment in instructional contexts and as a framework for the following overview of current research on the subject.

An Overview of Current Research on Self-Assessment

Several recent reviews of self-assessment are available ( Brown and Harris, 2013 ; Brown et al., 2015 ; Panadero et al., 2017 ), so I will not summarize the entire body of research here. Instead, I chose to take a birds-eye view of the field, with goal of reporting on what has been sufficiently researched and what remains to be done. I used the references lists from reviews, as well as other relevant sources, as a starting point. In order to update the list of sources, I directed two new searches 1 , the first of the ERIC database, and the second of both ERIC and PsychINFO. Both searches included two search terms, “self-assessment” OR “self-evaluation.” Advanced search options had four delimiters: (1) peer-reviewed, (2) January, 2013–October, 2016 and then October 2016–March 2019, (3) English, and (4) full-text. Because the focus was on K-20 educational contexts, sources were excluded if they were about early childhood education or professional development.

The first search yielded 347 hits; the second 1,163. Research that was unrelated to instructional feedback was excluded, such as studies limited to self-estimates of performance before or after taking a test, guesses about whether a test item was answered correctly, and estimates of how many tasks could be completed in a certain amount of time. Although some of the excluded studies might be thought of as useful investigations of self-monitoring, as a group they seemed too unrelated to theories of self-generated feedback to be appropriate for this review. Seventy-six studies were selected for inclusion in Table S1 (Supplementary Material), which also contains a few studies published before 2013 that were not included in key reviews, as well as studies solicited directly from authors.

The Table S1 in the Supplementary Material contains a complete list of studies included in this review, organized by the focus or topic of the study, as well as brief descriptions of each. The “type” column Table S1 (Supplementary Material) indicates whether the study focused on formative or summative self-assessment. This distinction was often difficult to make due to a lack of information. For example, Memis and Seven (2015) frame their study in terms of formative assessment, and note that the purpose of the self-evaluation done by the sixth grade students is to “help students improve their [science] reports” (p. 39), but they do not indicate how the self-assessments were done, nor whether students were given time to revise their reports based on their judgments or supported in making revisions. A sentence or two of explanation about the process of self-assessment in the procedures sections of published studies would be most useful.

Figure 1 graphically represents the number of studies in the four most common topic categories found in the table—achievement, consistency, student perceptions, and SRL. The figure reveals that research on self-assessment is on the rise, with consistency the most popular topic. Of the 76 studies in the table in the appendix, 44 were inquiries into the consistency of students' self-assessments with other judgments (e.g., a test score or teacher's grade). Twenty-five studies investigated the relationship between self-assessment and achievement. Fifteen explored students' perceptions of self-assessment. Twelve studies focused on the association between self-assessment and self-regulated learning. One examined self-efficacy, and two qualitative studies documented the mental processes involved in self-assessment. The sum ( n = 99) of the list of research topics is more than 76 because several studies had multiple foci. In the remainder of this review I examine each topic in turn.

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Figure 1 . Topics of self-assessment studies, 2013–2018.

Consistency

Table S1 (Supplementary Material) reveals that much of the recent research on self-assessment has investigated the accuracy or, more accurately, consistency, of students' self-assessments. The term consistency is more appropriate in the classroom context because the quality of students' self-assessments is often determined by comparing them with their teachers' assessments and then generating correlations. Given the evidence of the unreliability of teachers' grades ( Falchikov, 2005 ), the assumption that teachers' assessments are accurate might not be well-founded ( Leach, 2012 ; Brown et al., 2015 ). Ratings of student work done by researchers are also suspect, unless evidence of the validity and reliability of the inferences made about student work by researchers is available. Consequently, much of the research on classroom-based self-assessment should use the term consistency , which refers to the degree of alignment between students' and expert raters' evaluations, avoiding the purer, more rigorous term accuracy unless it is fitting.

In their review, Brown and Harris (2013) reported that correlations between student self-ratings and other measures tended to be weakly to strongly positive, ranging from r ≈ 0.20 to 0.80, with few studies reporting correlations >0.60. But their review included results from studies of any self-appraisal of school work, including summative self-rating/grading, predictions about the correctness of answers on test items, and formative, criteria-based self-assessments, a combination of methods that makes the correlations they reported difficult to interpret. Qualitatively different forms of self-assessment, especially summative and formative types, cannot be lumped together without obfuscating important aspects of self-assessment as feedback.

Given my concern about combining studies of summative and formative assessment, you might anticipate a call for research on consistency that distinguishes between the two. I will make no such call for three reasons. One is that we have enough research on the subject, including the 22 studies in Table S1 (Supplementary Material) that were published after Brown and Harris's review (2013 ). Drawing only on studies included in Table S1 (Supplementary Material), we can say with confidence that summative self-assessment tends to be inconsistent with external judgements ( Baxter and Norman, 2011 ; De Grez et al., 2012 ; Admiraal et al., 2015 ), with males tending to overrate and females to underrate ( Nowell and Alston, 2007 ; Marks et al., 2018 ). There are exceptions ( Alaoutinen, 2012 ; Lopez-Pastor et al., 2012 ) as well as mixed results, with students being consistent regarding some aspects of their learning but not others ( Blanch-Hartigan, 2011 ; Harding and Hbaci, 2015 ; Nguyen and Foster, 2018 ). We can also say that older, more academically competent learners tend to be more consistent ( Hacker et al., 2000 ; Lew et al., 2010 ; Alaoutinen, 2012 ; Guillory and Blankson, 2017 ; Butler, 2018 ; Nagel and Lindsey, 2018 ). There is evidence that consistency can be improved through experience ( Lopez and Kossack, 2007 ; Yilmaz, 2017 ; Nagel and Lindsey, 2018 ), the use of guidelines ( Bol et al., 2012 ), feedback ( Thawabieh, 2017 ), and standards ( Baars et al., 2014 ), perhaps in the form of rubrics ( Panadero and Romero, 2014 ). Modeling and feedback also help ( Labuhn et al., 2010 ; Miller and Geraci, 2011 ; Hawkins et al., 2012 ; Kostons et al., 2012 ).

An outcome typical of research on the consistency of summative self-assessment can be found in row 59, which summarizes the study by Tejeiro et al. (2012) discussed earlier: Students' self-assessments were higher than marks given by professors, especially for students with poorer results, and no relationship was found between the professors' and the students' assessments in the group in which self-assessment counted toward the final mark. Students are not stupid: if they know that they can influence their final grade, and that their judgment is summative rather than intended to inform revision and improvement, they will be motivated to inflate their self-evaluation. I do not believe we need more research to demonstrate that phenomenon.

The second reason I am not calling for additional research on consistency is a lot of it seems somewhat irrelevant. This might be because the interest in accuracy is rooted in clinical research on calibration, which has very different aims. Calibration accuracy is the “magnitude of consent between learners' true and self-evaluated task performance. Accurately calibrated learners' task performance equals their self-evaluated task performance” ( Wollenschläger et al., 2016 ). Calibration research often asks study participants to predict or postdict the correctness of their responses to test items. I caution about generalizing from clinical experiments to authentic classroom contexts because the dismal picture of our human potential to self-judge was painted by calibration researchers before study participants were effectively taught how to predict with accuracy, or provided with the tools they needed to be accurate, or motivated to do so. Calibration researchers know that, of course, and have conducted intervention studies that attempt to improve accuracy, with some success (e.g., Bol et al., 2012 ). Studies of formative self-assessment also suggest that consistency increases when it is taught and supported in many of the ways any other skill must be taught and supported ( Lopez and Kossack, 2007 ; Labuhn et al., 2010 ; Chang et al., 2012 , 2013 ; Hawkins et al., 2012 ; Panadero and Romero, 2014 ; Lin-Siegler et al., 2015 ; Fitzpatrick and Schulz, 2016 ).

Even clinical psychological studies that go beyond calibration to examine the associations between monitoring accuracy and subsequent study behaviors do not transfer well to classroom assessment research. After repeatedly encountering claims that, for example, low self-assessment accuracy leads to poor task-selection accuracy and “suboptimal learning outcomes” ( Raaijmakers et al., 2019 , p. 1), I dug into the cited studies and discovered two limitations. The first is that the tasks in which study participants engage are quite inauthentic. A typical task involves studying “word pairs (e.g., railroad—mother), followed by a delayed judgment of learning (JOL) in which the students predicted the chances of remembering the pair… After making a JOL, the entire pair was presented for restudy for 4 s [ sic ], and after all pairs had been restudied, a criterion test of paired-associate recall occurred” ( Dunlosky and Rawson, 2012 , p. 272). Although memory for word pairs might be important in some classroom contexts, it is not safe to assume that results from studies like that one can predict students' behaviors after criterion-referenced self-assessment of their comprehension of complex texts, lengthy compositions, or solutions to multi-step mathematical problems.

The second limitation of studies like the typical one described above is more serious: Participants in research like that are not permitted to regulate their own studying, which is experimentally manipulated by a computer program. This came as a surprise, since many of the claims were about students' poor study choices but they were rarely allowed to make actual choices. For example, Dunlosky and Rawson (2012) permitted participants to “use monitoring to effectively control learning” by programming the computer so that “a participant would need to have judged his or her recall of a definition entirely correct on three different trials, and once they judged it entirely correct on the third trial, that particular key term definition was dropped [by the computer program] from further practice” (p. 272). The authors note that this study design is an improvement on designs that did not require all participants to use the same regulation algorithm, but it does not reflect the kinds of decisions that learners make in class or while doing homework. In fact, a large body of research shows that students can make wise choices when they self-pace the study of to-be-learned materials and then allocate study time to each item ( Bjork et al., 2013 , p. 425):

In a typical experiment, the students first study all the items at an experimenter-paced rate (e.g., study 60 paired associates for 3 s each), which familiarizes the students with the items; after this familiarity phase, the students then either choose which items they want to restudy (e.g., all items are presented in an array, and the students select which ones to restudy) and/or pace their restudy of each item. Several dependent measures have been widely used, such as how long each item is studied, whether an item is selected for restudy, and in what order items are selected for restudy. The literature on these aspects of self-regulated study is massive (for a comprehensive overview, see both Dunlosky and Ariel, 2011 and Son and Metcalfe, 2000 ), but the evidence is largely consistent with a few basic conclusions. First, if students have a chance to practice retrieval prior to restudying items, they almost exclusively choose to restudy unrecalled items and drop the previously recalled items from restudy ( Metcalfe and Kornell, 2005 ). Second, when pacing their study of individual items that have been selected for restudy, students typically spend more time studying items that are more, rather than less, difficult to learn. Such a strategy is consistent with a discrepancy-reduction model of self-paced study (which states that people continue to study an item until they reach mastery), although some key revisions to this model are needed to account for all the data. For instance, students may not continue to study until they reach some static criterion of mastery, but instead, they may continue to study until they perceive that they are no longer making progress.

I propose that this research, which suggests that students' unscaffolded, unmeasured, informal self-assessments tend to lead to appropriate task selection, is better aligned with research on classroom-based self-assessment. Nonetheless, even this comparison is inadequate because the study participants were not taught to compare their performance to the criteria for mastery, as is often done in classroom-based self-assessment.

The third and final reason I do not believe we need additional research on consistency is that I think it is a distraction from the true purposes of self-assessment. Many if not most of the articles about the accuracy of self-assessment are grounded in the assumption that accuracy is necessary for self-assessment to be useful, particularly in terms of subsequent studying and revision behaviors. Although it seems obvious that accurate evaluations of their performance positively influence students' study strategy selection, which should produce improvements in achievement, I have not seen relevant research that tests those conjectures. Some claim that inaccurate estimates of learning lead to the selection of inappropriate learning tasks ( Kostons et al., 2012 ) but they cite research that does not support their claim. For example, Kostons et al. cite studies that focus on the effectiveness of SRL interventions but do not address the accuracy of participants' estimates of learning, nor the relationship of those estimates to the selection of next steps. Other studies produce findings that support my skepticism. Take, for instance, two relevant studies of calibration. One suggested that performance and judgments of performance had little influence on subsequent test preparation behavior ( Hacker et al., 2000 ), and the other showed that study participants followed their predictions of performance to the same degree, regardless of monitoring accuracy ( van Loon et al., 2014 ).

Eva and Regehr (2008) believe that:

Research questions that take the form of “How well do various practitioners self-assess?” “How can we improve self-assessment?” or “How can we measure self-assessment skill?” should be considered defunct and removed from the research agenda [because] there have been hundreds of studies into these questions and the answers are “Poorly,” “You can't,” and “Don't bother” (p. 18).

I almost agree. A study that could change my mind about the importance of accuracy of self-assessment would be an investigation that goes beyond attempting to improve accuracy just for the sake of accuracy by instead examining the relearning/revision behaviors of accurate and inaccurate self-assessors: Do students whose self-assessments match the valid and reliable judgments of expert raters (hence my use of the term accuracy ) make better decisions about what they need to do to deepen their learning and improve their work? Here, I admit, is a call for research related to consistency: I would love to see a high-quality investigation of the relationship between accuracy in formative self-assessment, and students' subsequent study and revision behaviors, and their learning. For example, a study that closely examines the revisions to writing made by accurate and inaccurate self-assessors, and the resulting outcomes in terms of the quality of their writing, would be most welcome.

Table S1 (Supplementary Material) indicates that by 2018 researchers began publishing studies that more directly address the hypothesized link between self-assessment and subsequent learning behaviors, as well as important questions about the processes learners engage in while self-assessing ( Yan and Brown, 2017 ). One, a study by Nugteren et al. (2018 row 19 in Table S1 (Supplementary Material)), asked “How do inaccurate [summative] self-assessments influence task selections?” (p. 368) and employed a clever exploratory research design. The results suggested that most of the 15 students in their sample over-estimated their performance and made inaccurate learning-task selections. Nugteren et al. recommended helping students make more accurate self-assessments, but I think the more interesting finding is related to why students made task selections that were too difficult or too easy, given their prior performance: They based most task selections on interest in the content of particular items (not the overarching content to be learned), and infrequently considered task difficulty and support level. For instance, while working on the genetics tasks, students reported selecting tasks because they were fun or interesting, not because they addressed self-identified weaknesses in their understanding of genetics. Nugteren et al. proposed that students would benefit from instruction on task selection. I second that proposal: Rather than directing our efforts on accuracy in the service of improving subsequent task selection, let us simply teach students to use the information at hand to select next best steps, among other things.

Butler (2018 , row 76 in Table S1 (Supplementary Material)) has conducted at least two studies of learners' processes of responding to self-assessment items and how they arrived at their judgments. Comparing generic, decontextualized items to task-specific, contextualized items (which she calls after-task items ), she drew two unsurprising conclusions: the task-specific items “generally showed higher correlations with task performance,” and older students “appeared to be more conservative in their judgment compared with their younger counterparts” (p. 249). The contribution of the study is the detailed information it provides about how students generated their judgments. For example, Butler's qualitative data analyses revealed that when asked to self-assess in terms of vague or non-specific items, the children often “contextualized the descriptions based on their own experiences, goals, and expectations,” (p. 257) focused on the task at hand, and situated items in the specific task context. Perhaps as a result, the correlation between after-task self-assessment and task performance was generally higher than for generic self-assessment.

Butler (2018) notes that her study enriches our empirical understanding of the processes by which children respond to self-assessment. This is a very promising direction for the field. Similar studies of processing during formative self-assessment of a variety of task types in a classroom context would likely produce significant advances in our understanding of how and why self-assessment influences learning and performance.

Student Perceptions

Fifteen of the studies listed in Table S1 (Supplementary Material) focused on students' perceptions of self-assessment. The studies of children suggest that they tend to have unsophisticated understandings of its purposes ( Harris and Brown, 2013 ; Bourke, 2016 ) that might lead to shallow implementation of related processes. In contrast, results from the studies conducted in higher education settings suggested that college and university students understood the function of self-assessment ( Ratminingsih et al., 2018 ) and generally found it to be useful for guiding evaluation and revision ( Micán and Medina, 2017 ), understanding how to take responsibility for learning ( Lopez and Kossack, 2007 ; Bourke, 2014 ; Ndoye, 2017 ), prompting them to think more critically and deeply ( van Helvoort, 2012 ; Siow, 2015 ), applying newfound skills ( Murakami et al., 2012 ), and fostering self-regulated learning by guiding them to set goals, plan, self-monitor and reflect ( Wang, 2017 ).

Not surprisingly, positive perceptions of self-assessment were typically developed by students who actively engaged the formative type by, for example, developing their own criteria for an effective self-assessment response ( Bourke, 2014 ), or using a rubric or checklist to guide their assessments and then revising their work ( Huang and Gui, 2015 ; Wang, 2017 ). Earlier research suggested that children's attitudes toward self-assessment can become negative if it is summative ( Ross et al., 1998 ). However, even summative self-assessment was reported by adult learners to be useful in helping them become more critical of their own and others' writing throughout the course and in subsequent courses ( van Helvoort, 2012 ).

Achievement

Twenty-five of the studies in Table S1 (Supplementary Material) investigated the relation between self-assessment and achievement, including two meta-analyses. Twenty of the 25 clearly employed the formative type. Without exception, those 20 studies, plus the two meta-analyses ( Graham et al., 2015 ; Sanchez et al., 2017 ) demonstrated a positive association between self-assessment and learning. The meta-analysis conducted by Graham and his colleagues, which included 10 studies, yielded an average weighted effect size of 0.62 on writing quality. The Sanchez et al. meta-analysis revealed that, although 12 of the 44 effect sizes were negative, on average, “students who engaged in self-grading performed better ( g = 0.34) on subsequent tests than did students who did not” (p. 1,049).

All but two of the non-meta-analytic studies of achievement in Table S1 (Supplementary Material) were quasi-experimental or experimental, providing relatively rigorous evidence that their treatment groups outperformed their comparison or control groups in terms of everything from writing to dart-throwing, map-making, speaking English, and exams in a wide variety of disciplines. One experiment on summative self-assessment ( Miller and Geraci, 2011 ), in contrast, resulted in no improvements in exam scores, while the other one did ( Raaijmakers et al., 2017 ).

It would be easy to overgeneralize and claim that the question about the effect of self-assessment on learning has been answered, but there are unanswered questions about the key components of effective self-assessment, especially social-emotional components related to power and trust ( Andrade and Brown, 2016 ). The trends are pretty clear, however: it appears that formative forms of self-assessment can promote knowledge and skill development. This is not surprising, given that it involves many of the processes known to support learning, including practice, feedback, revision, and especially the intellectually demanding work of making complex, criteria-referenced judgments ( Panadero et al., 2014 ). Boud (1995a , b) predicted this trend when he noted that many self-assessment processes undermine learning by rushing to judgment, thereby failing to engage students with the standards or criteria for their work.

Self-Regulated Learning

The association between self-assessment and learning has also been explained in terms of self-regulation ( Andrade, 2010 ; Panadero and Alonso-Tapia, 2013 ; Andrade and Brookhart, 2016 , 2019 ; Panadero et al., 2016b ). Self-regulated learning (SRL) occurs when learners set goals and then monitor and manage their thoughts, feelings, and actions to reach those goals. SRL is moderately to highly correlated with achievement ( Zimmerman and Schunk, 2011 ). Research suggests that formative assessment is a potential influence on SRL ( Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006 ). The 12 studies in Table S1 (Supplementary Material) that focus on SRL demonstrate the recent increase in interest in the relationship between self-assessment and SRL.

Conceptual and practical overlaps between the two fields are abundant. In fact, Brown and Harris (2014) recommend that student self-assessment no longer be treated as an assessment, but as an essential competence for self-regulation. Butler and Winne (1995) introduced the role of self-generated feedback in self-regulation years ago:

[For] all self-regulated activities, feedback is an inherent catalyst. As learners monitor their engagement with tasks, internal feedback is generated by the monitoring process. That feedback describes the nature of outcomes and the qualities of the cognitive processes that led to those states (p. 245).

The outcomes and processes referred to by Butler and Winne are many of the same products and processes I referred to earlier in the definition of self-assessment and in Table 1 .

In general, research and practice related to self-assessment has tended to focus on judging the products of student learning, while scholarship on self-regulated learning encompasses both processes and products. The very practical focus of much of the research on self-assessment means it might be playing catch-up, in terms of theory development, with the SRL literature, which is grounded in experimental paradigms from cognitive psychology ( de Bruin and van Gog, 2012 ), while self-assessment research is ahead in terms of implementation (E. Panadero, personal communication, October 21, 2016). One major exception is the work done on Self-regulated Strategy Development ( Glaser and Brunstein, 2007 ; Harris et al., 2008 ), which has successfully integrated SRL research with classroom practices, including self-assessment, to teach writing to students with special needs.

Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) have been explicit about the potential for self-assessment practices to support self-regulated learning:

To develop systematically the learner's capacity for self-regulation, teachers need to create more structured opportunities for self-monitoring and the judging of progression to goals. Self-assessment tasks are an effective way of achieving this, as are activities that encourage reflection on learning progress (p. 207).

The studies of SRL in Table S1 (Supplementary Material) provide encouraging findings regarding the potential role of self-assessment in promoting achievement, self-regulated learning in general, and metacognition and study strategies related to task selection in particular. The studies also represent a solution to the “methodological and theoretical challenges involved in bringing metacognitive research to the real world, using meaningful learning materials” ( Koriat, 2012 , p. 296).

Future Directions for Research

I agree with ( Yan and Brown, 2017 ) statement that “from a pedagogical perspective, the benefits of self-assessment may come from active engagement in the learning process, rather than by being “veridical” or coinciding with reality, because students' reflection and metacognitive monitoring lead to improved learning” (p. 1,248). Future research should focus less on accuracy/consistency/veridicality, and more on the precise mechanisms of self-assessment ( Butler, 2018 ).

An important aspect of research on self-assessment that is not explicitly represented in Table S1 (Supplementary Material) is practice, or pedagogy: Under what conditions does self-assessment work best, and how are those conditions influenced by context? Fortunately, the studies listed in the table, as well as others (see especially Andrade and Valtcheva, 2009 ; Nielsen, 2014 ; Panadero et al., 2016a ), point toward an answer. But we still have questions about how best to scaffold effective formative self-assessment. One area of inquiry is about the characteristics of the task being assessed, and the standards or criteria used by learners during self-assessment.

Influence of Types of Tasks and Standards or Criteria

Type of task or competency assessed seems to matter (e.g., Dolosic, 2018 , Nguyen and Foster, 2018 ), as do the criteria ( Yilmaz, 2017 ), but we do not yet have a comprehensive understanding of how or why. There is some evidence that it is important that the criteria used to self-assess are concrete, task-specific ( Butler, 2018 ), and graduated. For example, Fastre et al. (2010) revealed an association between self-assessment according to task-specific criteria and task performance: In a quasi-experimental study of 39 novice vocational education students studying stoma care, they compared concrete, task-specific criteria (“performance-based criteria”) such as “Introduces herself to the patient” and “Consults the care file for details concerning the stoma” to vaguer, “competence-based criteria” such as “Shows interest, listens actively, shows empathy to the patient” and “Is discrete with sensitive topics.” The performance-based criteria group outperformed the competence-based group on tests of task performance, presumably because “performance-based criteria make it easier to distinguish levels of performance, enabling a step-by-step process of performance improvement” (p. 530).

This finding echoes the results of a study of self-regulated learning by Kitsantas and Zimmerman (2006) , who argued that “fine-grained standards can have two key benefits: They can enable learners to be more sensitive to small changes in skill and make more appropriate adaptations in learning strategies” (p. 203). In their study, 70 college students were taught how to throw darts at a target. The purpose of the study was to examine the role of graphing of self-recorded outcomes and self-evaluative standards in learning a motor skill. Students who were provided with graduated self-evaluative standards surpassed “those who were provided with absolute standards or no standards (control) in both motor skill and in motivational beliefs (i.e., self-efficacy, attributions, and self-satisfaction)” (p. 201). Kitsantas and Zimmerman hypothesized that setting high absolute standards would limit a learner's sensitivity to small improvements in functioning. This hypothesis was supported by the finding that students who set absolute standards reported significantly less awareness of learning progress (and hit the bull's-eye less often) than students who set graduated standards. “The correlation between the self-evaluation and dart-throwing outcomes measures was extraordinarily high ( r = 0.94)” (p. 210). Classroom-based research on specific, graduated self-assessment criteria would be informative.

Cognitive and Affective Mechanisms of Self-Assessment

There are many additional questions about pedagogy, such as the hoped-for investigation mentioned above of the relationship between accuracy in formative self-assessment, students' subsequent study behaviors, and their learning. There is also a need for research on how to help teachers give students a central role in their learning by creating space for self-assessment (e.g., see Hawe and Parr, 2014 ), and the complex power dynamics involved in doing so ( Tan, 2004 , 2009 ; Taras, 2008 ; Leach, 2012 ). However, there is an even more pressing need for investigations into the internal mechanisms experienced by students engaged in assessing their own learning. Angela Lui and I call this the next black box ( Lui, 2017 ).

Black and Wiliam (1998) used the term black box to emphasize the fact that what happened in most classrooms was largely unknown: all we knew was that some inputs (e.g., teachers, resources, standards, and requirements) were fed into the box, and that certain outputs (e.g., more knowledgeable and competent students, acceptable levels of achievement) would follow. But what, they asked, is happening inside, and what new inputs will produce better outputs? Black and Wiliam's review spawned a great deal of research on formative assessment, some but not all of which suggests a positive relationship with academic achievement ( Bennett, 2011 ; Kingston and Nash, 2011 ). To better understand why and how the use of formative assessment in general and self-assessment in particular is associated with improvements in academic achievement in some instances but not others, we need research that looks into the next black box: the cognitive and affective mechanisms of students who are engaged in assessment processes ( Lui, 2017 ).

The role of internal mechanisms has been discussed in theory but not yet fully tested. Crooks (1988) argued that the impact of assessment is influenced by students' interpretation of the tasks and results, and Butler and Winne (1995) theorized that both cognitive and affective processes play a role in determining how feedback is internalized and used to self-regulate learning. Other theoretical frameworks about the internal processes of receiving and responding to feedback have been developed (e.g., Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick, 2006 ; Draper, 2009 ; Andrade, 2013 ; Lipnevich et al., 2016 ). Yet, Shute (2008) noted in her review of the literature on formative feedback that “despite the plethora of research on the topic, the specific mechanisms relating feedback to learning are still mostly murky, with very few (if any) general conclusions” (p. 156). This area is ripe for research.

Self-assessment is the act of monitoring one's processes and products in order to make adjustments that deepen learning and enhance performance. Although it can be summative, the evidence presented in this review strongly suggests that self-assessment is most beneficial, in terms of both achievement and self-regulated learning, when it is used formatively and supported by training.

What is not yet clear is why and how self-assessment works. Those of you who like to investigate phenomena that are maddeningly difficult to measure will rejoice to hear that the cognitive and affective mechanisms of self-assessment are the next black box. Studies of the ways in which learners think and feel, the interactions between their thoughts and feelings and their context, and the implications for pedagogy will make major contributions to our field.

Author Contributions

The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and has approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Supplementary Material

The Supplementary Material for this article can be found online at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/feduc.2019.00087/full#supplementary-material

1. ^ I am grateful to my graduate assistants, Joanna Weaver and Taja Young, for conducting the searches.

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Keywords: self-assessment, self-evaluation, self-grading, formative assessment, classroom assessment, self-regulated learning (SRL)

Citation: Andrade HL (2019) A Critical Review of Research on Student Self-Assessment. Front. Educ. 4:87. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2019.00087

Received: 27 April 2019; Accepted: 02 August 2019; Published: 27 August 2019.

Reviewed by:

Copyright © 2019 Andrade. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Heidi L. Andrade, handrade@albany.edu

This article is part of the Research Topic

Advances in Classroom Assessment Theory and Practice

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How to Write an Effective Self-Assessment

  • Marlo Lyons

self assessment essay conclusion

Don’t assume that your manager is aware of all you’ve accomplished. Here’s how to artfully highlight what you’ve done this year.

Writing a self-assessment can feel like an afterthought, but it’s a critical part of your overall performance review. Managers with many direct reports likely won’t have visibility into or remember all of your notable accomplishments from the year, and they don’t have time to read a long recap. The author offers five steps for drafting a self-assessment that covers your most impactful accomplishments and demonstrates self-awareness through a lens of improvement and development: 1) Focus on the entire year; 2) consider company and functional goals; 3) look for alignment with those goals; 4) seek feedback from colleagues; and 5) draft a concise list of accomplishments.

It’s performance review season for many companies, which means it’s time to reflect on the year and draft a self-assessment of your accomplishments. Writing an impactful self-assessment will set the tone for your manager’s evaluation of your work, which can affect your compensation (e.g., merit increase, bonus, etc.).

  • Marlo Lyons is a career, executive, and team coach, as well as the award-winning author of Wanted – A New Career: The Definitive Playbook for Transitioning to a New Career or Finding Your Dream Job . You can reach her at marlolyonscoaching.com .

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The Importance of Self-Assessment Essay

Conducting a self-assessment is not an easy task; in many respects, it seems hardly possible, seeing how an adequate evaluation of one’s assets and weaknesses comes from an objective analysis of the two latter elements, i.e., it requires the skills of critical analysis of one’s advantages and disadvantages. Even though some minor issues need to be fixed, by improving my skills in problem-solving and learning to define the source of the problem, and tackling it efficiently afterward by applying the appropriate measures, I will be able to uphold the commitments that I made to my employer, as well as to the people whom I will be communicating with, i.e., the students, at the same time avoiding the possible conflicts with the latter, which will become possible as soon as I improve my communication skills.

It is essential, however, to keep in mind that there is a line between personal and professional relationships, as it has been stated previously. While the professional skills acquired to develop leadership qualities are related to one’s assets to a considerable extent, it is crucial to make sure that the boundaries between professional and personal communication are not crossed; otherwise, professional relationships will inevitably deteriorate (Dawson, 2000).

Applying the given idea to the professional setting that I am going to operate in, I will have to shape my line of conduct so that the students could complete the registration process faster and more productively. However, I will also have to be firm and resistant to the possible stress factors, such as the tension arising due to the long lines, the possible technical issues, etc.

The integration of different techniques should also be given proper mentioning. To avoid the possible conflicts arising due to slow service, efficient technology is going to be integrated.

Even with all the necessary precautions made, however, conflicts are unavoidable. Hence, an efficient conflict solving strategy must be adopted to handle complex situations. At the given point, the significance of good communication skills will doubtlessly be recognized. Therefore, among the key aspects of my professional assets, the resistance to conflicts, and the ability to provide solutions for the emerging issues will have to be developed.

With that being said, I must admit that the given assessment provides a decent foil for my future growth as a professional and an individual. On the one hand, it allows for improving my business skills, or, to be more exact, the skills of a leader and a conflict-solver; on the other hand, it defines the further strategies for working on my critical thinking and communicational skills. Thus, I will be able to get hold of my emotions in general and anger in particular, which will help me deal with several stressful situations not only in business settings.

Certainly, it cannot be denied that I will still have a long way to go to reach my goal and acquire decent skills of a conflict-solver and a successful leader. However, with the key steps of the following professional and personal progress marked, I will know where to start from, as well as be able to come up with a time management plan, defining how long each step of the further improvements will take. By building stronger and more trustworthy relationships with the workers as a supervisor, I will finally evolve into a successful leader.

Reference List

Dawson, R. (2000). Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships: The Future of Professional Services . Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

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Self Assessment Essay Examples

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