Formative Assessment Strategies: The Importance of Student Self-Assessment

Student Self Assessment

As Dylan Wiliam outlined in his book Inside the Black Box (with co-author Paul Black), there is an essential link between student self- and peer-assessment and formative assessment in evolving effective classroom instruction. In fact, formative assessment strategies that do not include student self-assessment may not lead to desired outcomes.

Where anyone is trying to learn, feedback about their efforts has three elements: The desired goal, the evidence about their present position, and some understanding of a way to close the gap between the two.
Sadler, R. (1989). Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems. Instructional Science.


Formative assessment provides teachers and educators the means to close the gap between where the student is currently in their learning and the desired goal. Where student self-assessment typically goes wrong is when that student doesn’t understand what is expected of them. We’ve blogged previously about the importance of setting classroom and student expectations, and for students to capitalize on self-assessment, it’s crucial.

As Dylan Wiliam states in Inside the Black Box, “When pupils do acquire such overview [class expectations and goals], they then become more committed and more effective as learners: their own assessments become an object of discussion with their teachers and with one another, and this promotes even further that reflection on one’s own ideas that is essential to good learning.”

Do you see student self-assessment as a key part of effective classroom instruction?