Troubleshooting self-assessment

A male student in the University of Reading library working on a self-assessment project

Despite the benefits to student learning and the potential to boost their performance you may find that your students can sometimes be reluctant to embrace self-assessment activities. To help you get started, some of the common concerns about introducing self-assessment are addressed below:




What if students say that they're here to learn, not to assess?

Communicating the reasons for implementing self-assessment is key. Through self-assessment, students can learn what constitutes good work and how to identify it, as well as how to effectively interpret criteria, which will benefit them throughout their studies as well as their future careers. As such, the core purpose of introducing self-assessment should be to teach students these skills for lifelong learning, rather than to hand over responsibility for assessment. If you make this clear to students from the outset it may help to overcome your students' concerns.

What if students complain that they've got too much to do already?

Finding the time to explain why you're using self-assessment will be a good investment of your time and energy. No-one likes being given more work to do, but if your students have a better understanding of why you've asked them to self-assess, then you may find their resistance to it is lowered.

What if my students think that they don't have the level of knowledge or skills to assess their own work?

It is only with support and opportunities to practice that your students can develop the skills required to become effective assessors. As long as you get the preparation right, which includes teaching them what a good and poor assignment looks like, helping them to get a full understanding of what the assessment criteria mean, and ensuring that the process by which they should come to their conclusions is transparent, there should be little room for misunderstanding. While students may lack specialist knowledge with clear criteria they should be able to make a qualified decision on the quality of their own work.

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