Staying On Course Through Student Self Assessment

We all know the value of feedback and assessment; it’s part of the job as an instructor, even if it’s not our favorite part of the job. There are many creative approaches to meaningful assessment in any class, but a tried and true favorite of mine has always been student self-assessment. Being able to recognize one’s own strengths and weaknesses is a core value and important employability skill (360 degree feedback, anyone?) Nicely timed, it’s also closely related to Downing’s On Course principles, giving many of my in-class self-assessments a much-needed facelift.

Self-assessment is typically a useful tool in our writing classes for major essays and the research paper, though it could easily apply to any class project or major assignment. I’m always surprised how honest students will be when evaluating their drafts, and a quick review of these self-assessments allows me to see if there are any common concerns or problems to address in a class full of 32 varied writers.

I’m attaching one quick example of a self-assessment I use for a student essay assignment (click here: Essay Self Assessment Checklist ). I also ask them to provide a letter grade on the assignment at that moment. With a review of the On Course principles of self-management, self-responsibility, and self-awareness, I then have students set at least one SMART goal as it relates to the assignment. They are encouraged to meet that goal before the final deadline, of course, but I also try to follow-up on that particular goal when I review their final work.

If checklists aren’t your thing, even a quick check-in asking students to grade their project as is and list one strength/one weakness of the project based on the assignment guidelines and requirements makes them think critically, take responsibility, and hopefully strive for improvement!

For more information on using self-assessments in the classroom, visit or check out some of these google scholar finds at,50&as_vis=1

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