Self-assessment is a formative assessment approach, which moves the responsibility for learning from the educator to the student.

What is it?

Self-assessment is a learning activity that gives students a structure to generate feedback on their own outputs or skills. It is a great way to prompt students to think critically about their work and make them aware of their own learning. Regular self-assessment engages students in metacognition and supports them in becoming self-regulated learners. In a task-specific context, students can assess their draft or a component of a larger task. This will help students to improve their understanding of the task at hand and set themselves up well for the upcoming summative assessment. Assessment rubrics can provide a structure to a self-assessment task and prompt students to generate self-feedback.

Why is it useful?

Benefits for students

  • Gives students a chance to practise in a no-stakes environment and with little to no social pressure
  • Promotes active engagement with assessment criteria that way developing their understanding of intended learning outcomes
  • Encourages self-reflection and metacognition and, in turn, develops students’ capacity for independent learning.

Benefits for educators

  • Allows you to clarify assessment instructions by giving students a chance to have a go at the task and ask questions based on their first attempt.

How do I implement it?

To implement self-assessment in your teaching, try these strategies:

  • Engage students in self-assessment by highlighting its value to their learning. It is important to introduce self-assessment as an opportunity for students to improve their understanding of the assessment task and the quality of their work.
  • Provide opportunities for students to self-assess at various stages of the assessment task. For example, when working on a research essay, students can be first prompted to self-assess their argument and/or plan before assessing the full draft. This will make self-assessment a regular practice and provide the necessary scaffolding for students to gradually get used to the self-assessment protocols.
  • Prepare students to self-assess by stepping them through the process. A task-specific assessment rubric will help structure self-assessment and guide students through the process. Having a rubric for self-assessment will allow for students to generate self-feedback and translate it into actionable steps to work on in preparation for the summative assessment. For example, if during self-assessment a student identifies flaws in their essay argument, a well-designed analytic rubric will guide them towards actionable steps to improve their argument.
  • Use assessment exemplars to model self-assessment. Exemplars can be a great way to introduce students to the expectations for self-assessment. Before performing a rubric-referenced self-assessment, students can be asked to assess the exemplar based on the same rubric they will be later using to assess their own work.

Supporting technologies

  • FeedbackFruits is a user-friendly tool that can facilitate both self-assessment of work and self-assessment of skill. It makes it easy to structure a purposeful self-assessment activity where students grade themselves on a set of pre-determined criteria. Additionally, FeedbackFruits provides scaffolded assessment options where self-assessment can be added as a pre and/or post reflection step.
  • PebblePad offers opportunities for self-assessment as part of a larger task, iterative task, such as a portfolio, a blog, a placement, or a workbook. For example, rubrics, checklists, and Likert scales can be integrated into a workbook or a placement activity for a student to check their progress or measure the attainment of skill.
  • The University’s own Assessment Literacy Tool is an online platform for students to engage with sample assignments and compare their marking decisions with the evaluations provided by the teaching team. This can serve as a perfect preparation for self-assessment. The tool allows you to upload a rubric for students to assess a sample assignment against. Importantly, the tool also gets students to justify their selection. Upon providing their justifications and rubric selections, students can compare their responses to the teaching team’s assessment. Submit a ServiceNow request to add the tool to your subject’s LMS.


This page was last updated on 17 Oct 2022.

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