Student Self-Assessment to Empower Learning

Wouldn’t it be terrific to know that your students are motivated and confident in their abilities to learn what you teach them? Rest assured, you can guide students towards self-directed learning by capitalizing on the synergy found in self-directed learning, self-regulated learning, and student self-assessment (SSA).

Now you might be thinking this sounds great, but “it will add to my workload and I do not have time to do more.” I admit, it could mean more upfront work for you. However, that investment should result in a sustainable process where students feel a greater sense of self-efficacy and control over their learning experience. In this post, I’ll explore how student self-assessment empowers students to self-regulate their own learning.

Why student self-assessment?

Student self-assessment is a formative assessment process that empowers students to monitor and evaluate their learning, leading towards corrective actions (McMillan and Hearn 2008). When the criterion used to assess performance is clearly identified, then students can use that standard to gauge how well they do with their work.

Types of student self-assessment

While five types of student self-assessment exist, this post highlights a few categories that enable students to identify their own knowledge and/or skill gaps as well as a few corrective strategies.

Table 1. Self-assessment typologies

Panadero & Alonso-TapiaPresence and form of assessment criteriaa. Standard self-assessment
b. Rubrics
c. Scripts (additionally prompts and cues)
Brown & HarrisStudent response formata. Self-rating
b. Self-markings or self-estimates of performance
c. Criteria- or rubric-based assessment

Self-assessment typologies Panaderon, Brown & Strijbos (2016)

Panaderon, Brown & Strijbos (2016)’s research substantiates that students trained in SSA show an increase in:

  1. Academic performance and learning.
  2. Advanced self-regulated and self-assessment strategies (e.g., metacognitive monitoring/metacognitive strategies).
  3. Enhanced self-efficacy in tasks being performed.
  4. Taking ownership of their own learning.

Students should use smart goals and tools like rubrics, self-estimates of performance, and graphic organizers to track how well they grasp information. Based on identified gaps, students should be able to take corrective steps and acquire further information to fill those gaps.

In one of my courses, I give students the opportunity to do this with their final paper. Blackboard’s SafeAssign tool helps them identify issues with citations. When students view the report before the due date, they can identify and self-assess their writing as well as self-correct their APA citation identified by the SafeAssign report. Students who take this opportunity before submitting the final paper improved their grades and better understood using APA citations.

As an instructor, you probably have an idea of areas where students need improvement. Based on your experiences, this is a great place to add materials to train students to improve their self-assessment. The investment in your students is worth it.

Do you use student self-assessment in your teaching? Have you seen improvements in your student’s self-efficacy? If so, please share.


McMillan, J., & Hearn J. (2008). Student self-assessment: The key to stronger student motivation and higher achievement. Retrieved from

Panadero, E., Brown, G., & Strijbos, J. (2016). The future of student self-assessment: A review of known unknowns and potential directions. Educational Psychology Review.

Author: Tara McCoy, Lead Instructional Designer

Tara is a lifelong learner and recovering Type A personality. She loves to read and help others learn. A mighty Spartan and Tartar, she earned her BA from Michigan State University, and MA and EdS in Instructional Technology from Wayne State University. She’s an active member of Toastmasters International, having held various chapter-level leadership positions.

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