A cyclical self-assessment process: An analysis of how university students engage in self-assessment

Zi YAN, Gavin T. L. BROWN

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


While significant progress has been made on understanding the effects of student self-assessment, the inner processes of self-assessment are surprisingly understudied. Previous studies either simply described self-assessment as a package of instruments or tools that could be used to self-assess, or a flow of instruction/learning procedure which is facilitated by self-assessment, but very few have gauged the way in which the self-assessment was conducted. The self-assessment process still remained in a “black box” in literature. This study aims to identify the actions and processes involved in university students’ self-assessment in the Hong Kong context. A qualitative method was used to analyse 17 individual interviews of undergraduate students at a teacher education institute. The analysis of the interview data revealed a cyclical self-assessment process which involved three actions including: (1) determining relevant performance criteria against which students build their self-assessment, (2) self-directed feedback seeking regarding the performance from either external (e.g., teacher feedback, previous test scores) or internal (e.g., motivation, emotions) sources., and (3) self-reflection by which students consider their performance, enhance their understanding of the problem and identify their own strengths and weaknesses. By carrying out these three sequenced actions, students arrived at self-assessment judgments which are subject to continuous calibration and refinement based on various sources of feedback and ought to lead to increasingly accurate or veridical self-assessments. This study helps better understanding of the self-assessment process and shed light on the mechanisms and structures that students use when asked to self-assess. Copyright © 2018 EARLI.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017


Yan, Z., & Brown, G. (2017, August). A cyclical self-assessment process: An analysis of how university students engage in self-assessment. Paper presented at the 17th Biennial EARLI Conference: Education in the crossroads of economy and politics – Role of research in the advancement of public good, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.


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