James H. McMillan and Jessica Hearn defined student self-assessment as a process by which (1) students themselves monitor and judge the quality of their own performance and their learning habits. Also (2) students themselves identify gaps in their understanding and skills and propose ways to fill those gaps. If doing properly, student self-assessment is important not only in an assessment process but also in a learning process. Why is that?
- Students know best about their own weakness and their knowledge and skill gaps.
- Students know best about their capability to set up realistic goals.
- Students know best about their learning style and habit, therefore they can best manage their time, speed, and method to complete their targets.
- Students can best track their learning progress.
Fig.1 of James H. McMillan and Jessica Hearn showed the cycle of student self-assessment process. They are more responsible for setting their learning targets, working to achieve the targets, monitoring their progress, modifying their strategies, and finally adjusting their original targets or setting up new targets.
I think the self-assessment method gives students all factors (autonomy, mastery, and purpose) according to Dan Pink leading to better performance and personal satisfaction.
In order to facilitate self-assessment in an effective way, teachers play an important role. In particular, teachers should set up clear expectations, provide assessment criteria, show students how to judge their performance based on provided criteria, provide them feedbacks, and give them the chance to practice self-assessment.
By doing it properly, student self-assessment can enhance student motivation and achievement. More important, it is a critical skill that students can use beyond the classroom scale as a life-long learner.
McMillan, J.H. and J. Hearn. (2008). Student self-assessment: the key to stronger student motivation and higher achievement. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ815370.pdf.