Self-Assessment Supports Learning
by Sandra L. Love, Ed.D.
Assessment for learning promotes a shift in instruction that guides students to examine their own learning, determine how well they understand, and identify areas that require improvement. As students gather information and reflect about their learning, they engage in self-assessment. Self-assessment should not only measure understanding but point toward gaps in students’ knowledge.
Student self-assessment promotes active learning by engaging students in the learning process. When students assess themselves, they take responsibility for their learning by using assessment criteria and reflecting on their own performance in relation to the criteria. Students readily recognize that learning is an active process which helps motivate students to engage with learning.
Self-assessment is an essential component of formative assessment. This assessment process requires students to recognize the learning goal, determine current progress, and know what to do to close the gaps. Formative assessment focuses on opportunities to develop students’ abilities to evaluate themselves, to form judgments about their own performance, and to take steps to improve.
Criteria for Success
Students must understand the specific, measureable criteria that identify what success looks like when the learning goal is reached. In order to evaluate their work or performance, students must be able to identify or define quality work. By seeing examples of what quality does and does not look like or by discussing success criteria, students better understand the expectations. When students selfassess effectively, they can describe the criteria by which to gauge their performance. If students deeply understand the criteria for success, they can evaluate and explain how their work meets the criteria. Comprehension and use of criteria in this way can lead to deeper learning and improved student engagement.
Reflection is key to self-assessment. Students are required to reflect on their own work and judge their performance in relation to the assessment criteria. The ability toidentify their strengths, weaknesses, and areas that require improvement are reflective skills. Students may
reflect using learning logs, diaries, discussions, interviews, questioning, and journals. As students reflect on learning, they use new knowledge to increase their levels of understanding, correct previous misconceptions that may exist, and make meaning of their learning.
Student self-assessment promotes active learning by engaging students in the learning process. When students assess themselves, they take responsibility for their learning by using assessment criteria and reflecting on their own performance in relation to the criteria.