Strategy 7: Self Assessment
Version Date: November 10, 2015
As its name implies, Self-Assessment is the practice of testing
yourself to see how well you are learning the material you are studying
or being taught. You have probably already used one or more kinds of
self assessment in the past. This strategy page will give you some
ideas about several ways to test your learning, to provide some variety
to your evaluations.
Self-Assessment helps you learn in two ways. First, the mere act of
going through the materials and creating questions or other assessments
for them helps you learn the content. You pay attention, evaluate what
is important, select a method of testing, determine the right answer.
All these efforts provide learning experiences. Second, of course, you
learn by taking the assessment and getting immediate feedback about
your performance. The faster the feedback, the more effective it is for
1. Gather Your Study Aids
The first step in the process is to gather the materials and study aids
that you want to create tests for. These materials can be put into two
Primary Materials. These are the full-text, complete information
sources you are working with:
Processed Materials. These are the materials you have created, that
reduce or alter the primary materials to make them more useful to you.
- Web sites or pages
- recorded lectures
- presentations (such as PowerPoint decks)
- audio recordings
- lecture notes
- study guides
- idea maps
2. Create a variety of assessments
from both kinds of materials.
Testing yourself by using several different methods will help you
learn and understand the material better than if you use just one
method. Here are some ideas:
- Vocabulary Flash Cards. These cards can contain any two terms
associated with each other, with the term on one side and the
associated item on the other: word and definition, brand name drug and
generic name, term and category (tomato/vegetable), symptom and
diagnosis, poison and antidote, and so forth. One useful thing to
remember about flash cards like this is that they should be run both
forward and backward. That is, start by reading, say, the vocuabulary
word and reciting the definition. Then, after a few trips through the
deck, reverse yourself and read the definition and recite the
vocabulary word that matches. (For a powerful and efficient way to use
flash cards, see Learning Strategy 10: The
Leitner Flash Card System.)
- Question and Answer Flash Cards. Put a question on one side of
the card and the answer on the other side. The answers can be a single
word or date or number or they can be more extensive, depending on the
- Problem Flash Cards. These flash cards present a problem for you
to work out on one side and the answer on the other. For example, one
side might say "Convert 75 degrees Fahrenheit into Celsius." and the
other side will have the answer.
- Cloze Test. This type of assessment takes, say a summary
paragraph from your text or Web page, and replaces every fifth word
with a blank. You then must, on the basis of having read the parpagraph
in its original form, fill in the blanks with the missing words. Then
you check for accuracy. The best use of this type of assessment is to
get together with another student in the class and create cloze tests
for each other.
- Matching test. Create your own matching test. This might seem to
be futile since you will be so familiar with the answers
that you'll always get 100 percent. But re-read that last
sentence: You'll be so familiar with the answers that you'll
always get 100 percent." The value is in creating the test. That's when
the learning takes place.
- Matching deck. With this assessment method, you have cards with
the term, question, or acronym and cards with the definition, answer,
or explanation all present, face up, at the same time. Your task is to
pair up the appropriate cards.
3. Use the pre-made assessments available
Most textbooks and most courses have various study aid materials
available to help improve student learning. Take advantage of some of
4. Take the assessments and evaluate
- Practice exercises
- End of chapter questions
Assess yourself at regular intervals, such as daily or weekly so you
can track how well you are learning. Ask yourself these questions:
- What did I miss?
- What's my score?
- Is my performance better, the same, or worse than last time?
- How are my scores trending?
Engage in some self-monitoring activity (See
Learning Strategy 4: Self
Monitoring for more information) by asking some of these questions:
- How well am I learning this material?
- What changes or adjustments do I need to make in order to improve
my scores and my learning?
- Do the quiz results show any consistent patterns?
- Where am I especially strong or weak?
- Is learning the material becoming easier and/or faster, or still
Finding a study buddy in the same class to quiz you, evaluate
your learning, praise you for right answers, and share his or her
knowledge with you provides many benefits. You'll find that you can
study longer and with more interest and motivation than you can by
yourself. You'll also gather insights, tips, and other ideas about the
subject you are studying.
Learning Strategy 1: Mnemonics
Learning Strategy 2: Paraphrasing
Learning Strategy 3: Summarizing
Learning Strategy 4: Self Monitoring
Learning Strategy 5: Self Explanation
Learning Strategy 6: Mental Rehearsal
Learning Strategy 7: Self Assessment
Learning Strategy 8: The SQ3R Reading Method
Learning Strategy 9: Note Taking
Learning Strategy 10: The Leitner Flash Card
Learning Strategy 11: Maintaining Interest
Learning Strategy 12: Conversation
Learning Strategy 13: Group Interaction
Learning Strategy 14: Idea Mapping
Learning Strategy 15: Drawing Pictures
Learning Strategy 16: Study Cycles
Learning Strategy 17: Sleep and Rest
Learning Strategy 18: Fluency / Automaticity
Learning Strategy 19: Learning Strategy Checklist
Learning Strategy 20: Asking Questions
Learning Strategy 21: Idea Linking
Learning Strategy 22: How to Use a Book
Learning Strategy 23: Active Listening
Learning Strategy 24: Close Reading
Learning Strategy 25: Analogies
Learning Strategy 26: Power Thinking
Learning Strategy 27: Planning for Learning
Learning Strategy 28: Outlining
Learning Strategy 29: Analogies
2014 by Robert Harris | How
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About the author:
Harris is a writer
and educator with more than 25 years of teaching experience at the
and university level. RHarris at virtualsalt.com