Where can I use self-assessment?

A student working at a laptop in the reading room at MERLLike peer assessment, self-assessment can be used in a variety of contexts and your students will typically self-assess all of their work to some degree, comparing grades with their friends and (hopefully!) reflecting on your feedback. You can further encourage this informal self-assessment, or you may decide to formalise it and bring it in to the assessment programme, either as a means of providing formative feedback, or (after moderation) as a part of the summative assessment. Despite the concerns about using self-assessment summatively, as it involves students awarding their own grades, research has shown that students are typically honest1.


Top tip: Ways in which you can use self-assessment include:

Reflective logs and diaries

Some assessment forms, such as reflective logs and diaries, are designed to introduce self-assessment, and promote students to reflect on a very individual, private level throughout a course of study. These perceptions can then be evaluated at different points to provide formative feedback. Reflective diaries and portfolios can be particularly useful as a means of contributing to the assessment of work placements.

Audits and feedback sheets

Audits or feedback sheets can be used to allow self-assessment of specific tasks, such as an essay or a series of tasks throughout a module. In the case of an audit, students are encouraged to identify what they feel they did best, what they did worst, what they found most difficult, and to award themselves a grade2. You can then compare this with your own impressions and feed back to the student. Another variation is to allow students to self-mark their work according to the same criteria that you would use, with students being required to submit justification for the grade they have awarded themselves, using the criteria as evidence3.

Posters and presentations

Using self-assessment for posters and presentations gives students an insight into the different approaches that others may take and allows direct comparison. This can make it obvious to students what they have done well and what can be done to improve.

For an example of using self-assessment for poster presentations, see the peer and self-assessment of posters in archaeology case study on the University of Reading website.


  1. Black, P. & Wiliam, D. (2001). Inside the Black Box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. http://weaeducation.typepad.co.uk/files/blackbox-1.pdf [9th August 2011].

  2. Race, P. (2001). A Briefing on Self-, Peer, and Group Assessment. LTSN Generic Centre Assessment Series No. 9. York. LTSN Generic Centre.

  3. Sendziuk, P. (2009). Improving the Feedback Mechanism and Student Learning through a Self-Assessment Activity'. In: ATN Assessment Conference 2009: Assessment in Different Dimensions (J. Milton, C. Hall, J. Lang, G. Allan & M. Nomikoudis (eds.). Melbourne: Learning and Teaching Unit, RMIT University, pp.293-301.

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