Self Analysis Assignment

For me examples are like pictures; worth a 1,000 words. In last week’s post I wrote about the need to intervene in the development of student self-assessment skills, leaving the process less to chance and making it more the result of purposeful intervention. At a recent Teaching Professor Workshop, I saw an assignment that illustrates that kind of intervention. It was from a 100-level, Introduction to U.S. Government course, but is adaptable to any course. The assignment has two parts and they are the first and last pieces of work students complete in the course.

First Assignment – Personal Goals Statement
Prepare a paper (at least 750 words) that identifies your personal goals for this course. This statement should be specific and detailed. The paper should also contain a description of how you plan to meet your goals. If it helps, you are welcome to set weekly goals and a time schedule. You should do whatever will help you think through why you are taking this particular course and how it fits in with your overall learning goals.

Last Assignment – What Have You Learned from the Class?
Write a self evaluation paper (at least 750 words) in which you analyze how well you met your personal goals for the course. If your goals changed, discuss how and if unforeseen goals emerged, describe what they were. Conclude the paper by assigning yourself an overall-grade based on your performance in the course. That grade will constitute 10 of the 30 points available for this assignment.

What a great way to help students start the course thinking about how it might be relevant to them. The instructor of this course reports that many students have personal goals related to grades. He understands that and accepts it. His goal is to help students see that there is more to the course than just a grade—that the content is meaningful and useful independent of the grade.

I don’t think many students think in terms of specific learning goals. For many, doing so will probably start out feeling like just another one of those required assignments, but having to come up with goals is a useful exercise, even if at that time students aren’t all that committed to their goals. Beyond goals, you could ask student to identify two or three things they’d like to learn in the course. You might need to explain that other than learning things related the content, they might want to develop a learning skill; like how to write better, or how to ask questions, or how to construct an argument.

You could follow up after the first paper has been submitted by sharing two or three learning goals you have for students. You may even want to share a learning goal you’ve set for yourself, such as how to use a particular instructional strategy. Discussion of individual and course goals should happen regularly during the course. If what’s happening in class one day directly relates to a student goal, you could point that out. After providing feedback to the class on a set of assignments, you might ask them what progress they think they are making toward various learning goals. Don’t expect a vibrant discussion the first time you ask, as this is not a question students are used to answering. Yet even brief mentions of goals will remind students that goals should be a part of their thinking about this course.

The real value of the assignment is the final paper where students return to their goals and assess how well they reached them. You could prompt students to provide examples illustrating how their goals were achieved. If a goal hasn’t been reached, there needs to be a discussion of why. Ask if they were starting the course over, would they set the same goals or others?

Many different iterations of the assignment are possible. In a variety of forms, it’s an assignment that develops self-assessment skills by challenging students to make the course meaningful to them. Courses should not be something instructors do unto students. In any learning endeavor, students should have goals. They should be able to articulate what they hope to take from the experience. Here’s an assignment that provides the opportunity to develop those skills.

What are some ways you help your students create goals and assess their progress? Please share in the comment box below.

Posted in Teaching Professor Blog
Tagged with assessment strategies, assessment techniques, assignment strategies, informal self-assessment, self-assessment

1. What is self-assessment?
2. Why employ self-assessment?
3. How can you incorporate self-assessment?
4. What else should you consider when incorporating self-assessment?

1. What is self-assessment?

The ability to be a realistic judge of one’s own performance.

2. Why employ self-assessment?

  • Provides timely and effective feedback and allows for quick assessment of student learning.
  • Allows instructors to understand and provide quick feedback on learning.
  • Promotes academic integrity through student self-reporting of learning progress.
  • Promotes the skills of reflective practice and self-monitoring.
  • Develops self-directed learning.
  • Increases student motivation.
  • Improves satisfaction from participating in a collaborative learning environment.
  • Helps students develop a range of personal, transferrable skills to meet the expectations of future employers.

3. How can you incorporate self-assessment?

  • Identify which assignments and criteria are to be assessed.
  • Articulate expectations and clear criteria for the task; this can be accomplished with a rubric.
  • Motivate students by framing the assignment as an opportunity to reflect objectively on their work, determine how this work aligns with the assignment criteria, and determine ways for improvement.
  • Provide an opportunity for students to agree upon and take ownership of the assessment criteria.
  • Draw attention to the inner dialogue that people engage in as they produce a piece of work. You can model this by talking out loud as you solve a problem, or by explaining the types of decisions you had to think about and make as you moved along through a project.

Some Self-Assessment Tasks
Assignment cover sheet (Svinicki & McKeachie, 2011)

  • Require students to submit a cover sheet with their assignment.
  • On the cover sheet, students should respond self-assessment prompts (for example):
    • What is strong, or what went well with this assignment? Provide examples.
    • What do you think is weak about this assignment?

Small Feedback Groups

  • Provide students with feedback on an assignment.
  • Have students work in pairs or small groups.
  • Have them or orally explain and discuss the feedback they received.

4. What else should you consider when incorporating self-assessment?

  • The difference between self-assessment and self-grading will need clarification.
  • The process of effective self-assessment will require instruction and sufficient time for students to learn.
  • Students are used to a system where they have little or no input in how they are assessed, and are often unaware of assessment criteria.
  • Students will want to know how much self-assessed assignments will count toward their final grade in the course.
  • Incorporating self-assessment can motivate students to engage with the material more deeply.
  • Self-assessment assignments can take more time.
  • Research shows that students can be more stringent in their self-assessment than the instructor.
  • Traditional, instructor assessment can result in “backwash” where the assessment determines what and how students learn more than the curriculum.
  • Upper-level, science-oriented courses are better suited for self-assessment

Resources for Incorporating Self-Assessment:

Structures for Self-Assessment, The Foundation for Critical Thinking
Helping Students Self-Assess Their Learning, Georgia State University Center for Teaching and Learning
Student Self-Assessment, Duquesne University Center for Teaching Innovation


Falchikov, N, Boud, D. (1989) Student Self-Assessment in Higher Education: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 59: 365 (

Andrade, H., and Du, Y. (2007). Student responses to criteria-referenced self-assessment. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 32 (2), 159–181.

Andrade, H. and Valtcheva, A. (2009). Promoting Learning and Achievement Through Self-Assessment. Theory Into Practice, 48, 12-19.

Berdrow, I. and Evers, F.T. (2011). Bases of Competence: A Framework for Facilitating Reflective Learner-Centered Educational Environments. Journal of Management Education, 35(3), 406-427.

Fei, S.M., Lu, G.D. and Shi, Y.D. (2007). Using Multi-Mode Assessments to Engage Engineering Students in Their Learning Experience. European Journal of Engineering Education, 32 (2), 219-226.

McDonald, B. (2010). Improving Learning Through Meta Assessment. Active Learning in Higher Education, 11 (2), 119-129.

Sitzman, T., Ely, K., Brown, K.G., Bauer, K.N. (2010). Self-Assessment of Knowledge: A Cognitive Learning or Affective Measure. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 9 (2), 169-191.

Svinicki, M. and McKeachie, W.J. (2011). McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. (13th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Stevens, D and Levi, A. (2005). Introduction to Rubrics. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing. (Brief overview may be accessed at


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