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Queen Mary Academy

Self and Peer assessment

Why involve students in their own assessment?(Race 2001, p.6-7)

  • Because students are already self-assessing and peer-assessing quite naturally
  • Because tutor assessment is not sufficiently valid, reliable or transparent
  • To deepen students’ learning experiences
  • To let students in to the assessment culture
  • To help students move towards becoming autonomous learners
  • To help students develop skills relating to life-long learning
  • To help students gain much more feedback than would otherwise be possible

Self Assessment

What is self-assessment?

Self-assessment is defined as ‘the involvement of learners in making judgements about their achievements and the outcomes of their learning’ (Boud and Falchikov (1989, p529) and

‘identifying standards and/or criteria to apply to their work and making judgements about the extent to which they have met these criteria and standards’ (Boud 1995, p4).

Self-assessment is a reflective activity for students - making critical judgements about their own work, the processes they used in producing the work, their achievements and the outcomes of their learning. It is not about ‘supplanting the role of teachers’ (Boud 1995, p17) and can be used as a teaching and learning (formative) strategy and is one of the most important skills that students require for future professional career and life-long learning (Brew 1999 and Taras 2010). The individual student is able to gain understanding of their own needs, which can then be communicated to fellow students (leading into peer learning and assessment) and/or the tutor/lecturer. The issues of power, control and authority should be considered (Brew, 1999).


Some simple ideas to implement self-assessment

(Falchikov, 2005 p120-125):

Self-assessment of coursework essays using criteria referenced approach in Psychology: extent to which the question addressed, organization and structure, quality and relevance of argument, depth of understanding, evaluation of theoretical concepts and research evidence.

Self-assessment in first year Sociology: marking criteria included in handbook, teacher feedback provided without grade then students self-assess and resubmit, bonus marks awarded for accuracy of staff versus student marking.

Self-assessment of essays by students of foreign languages: assessment criteria negotiated with tutor and other students, then self- assessment carried out in two rounds so that students could gain experience.


Good Practice in Self-Assessment  

(Boud, 1995; p208)

  • Staff need to be willing to share control of assessment: students are involved in establishing criteria, have a direct role in influencing the process and guidelines are produced for each stage of the process.
  • Self-assessment should be perceived as part of student engagement in and learning about a subject: expressing understanding, making decision and justifying judgements.
  • Students’ perceptions of assessment should be considered and there is a clear rationale - which is discussed with students and the process is evaluated and modified accordingly.

The following prompts may be useful for self-assessment dialogues with your students  

(Race 2001, 6-7)

  • What do you think is a fair score or grade for the work you have handed in? 
  • What was the thing you think you did best in this assignment?
  • What was the thing that you think you did least well in this assignment?
  • What did you find the hardest part of this assignment?
  • What was the most important thing you learned in doing this assignment?

Video: Self-tests and feedback on misconceptions