The Power of Student Self-Assessment and Metacognition

As the school year comes to a close, it is a time to put a lot of emphasis on reflection and self-assessment. We want our students to reflect on what they have learned, evaluate the skills they’ve improved in, and assess which areas they need to focus on continued improvement for next school year and beyond. However, self-evaluation and reflection is a skill that needs to be consistently reinforced throughout the school year as it provides students the opportunity to practice metacognition. Regardless of whether we are in a face to face or online setting, metacognition is an effective active learning strategy that gives students the ability to be self-aware of their own thinking (Flavell, 1976; Hartman, 2001). Ultimately, through practicing metacognition, it allows students to self-assess and monitor how they are thinking, the information they have taken in and consumed, what information they need, and determine whether their line of thinking and reasoning will allow them to solve the the problems they face (Kluger & DeNisi, 1992). All of this is nothing new in regards to the research.

As teachers, we want our students to be life long learners. As a result, we can provide these opportunities more than ever on a daily, weekly, semesterly, and yearly basis. Thus, we need to build self-assessment into all our lessons and units. Thus, throughout the school year, I have students practice self-assessment on a daily basis, weekly, at the end of the semester, and at the end of the year. My goal is to show you how I have my students practice self-assessment metacognition at the secondary level. Not only does self-assessment give students an opportunity to practice metacognition skills, it also provides teachers with a plethora of information about our students they can use to become better teachers. This information can help teachers learn more about the students thoughts regarding what they know, where they need to go, and what areas of strength they feel like they are strong in. Ultimately, this facilitates dialogue between teachers and students throughout the year to help monitor and adjust our instruction as well as focus on the personalizing learning of our students.

Daily Self-Assessment

Daily self-assessment is quick, which can be an employed during the closure of a lesson. Teachers can pose one to three questions regarding what was covered, student understanding, and areas of strength/improvement for students to interact with and think about. I like to use Pear Deck for my interactive slideshows so I can have active engagement throughout my entire lesson. Ultimately, at the end of most of my lessons, I provide students an opportunity to think about what they have learned. This provides students an opportunity to practice metacognition and gives me quick feedback on where my students believe they are currently at on the skills or content discussed during that class period.

Weekly Self-Assessment

Weekly self-assessment allows students to practice metacognition skills by allowing them to summarize what they have learned throughout the week as well as narrow down areas of strength and areas improvement. In addition, a weekly self-assessment gives students an opportunity give themselves self-reported grades on their reading, writing, math, participation, and work completion. By providing students an opportunity to self-report their progress and grades, it can allow teachers to have a dialogue with students thereafter to facilitate conversation about their strengths and areas they can to improve in. For the weekly self-assessment, I utilize a Google Forms for a weekly self-assessment because I provide multiple choice and free response reflection questions for my students. Also, the data output from Google Forms is extremely valuable because it allows me to analyze individual and class trends over the course of a semester.

Weekly Self-Assessment Using Google Forms

Semester Self-Assessment

Like weekly self-assessments, the end of the semester self-assessment provides students an opportunity think about their progress throughout the entire semester and provides an opportunity self-reflect, self-report grades, and formulate goals for the second half of the year. In a similar manner as the daily and weekly self-assessment, a semester self-assessment creates an opportunity for dialogue and student centered goal assessment and creation. For the semester self-assessment, I use a Google Form for the same reasons I use it for the weekly self-assessment. Overall, the major distinction between the weekly self-assessment the semester self-assessment are the questions the reflection form asks students. For the weekly self-assessment, the questions focus on what we have learned on a weekly basis. For the end of the semester self-assessment, the questions focus on asking our students to take the themes out of what they have learned as well as their abilities.

Year in Review Self-Assessment

Similar to the semester self-assessment, the year in review self-assessment focuses on reflecting on major themes students have learned throughout the semester The questions on each survey are the same, which allows teachers to see the difference in student self-reflection and self-reported grades from the mid-year and at the end of the year. Additionally, this end of the year self-assessment provides students a more in-depth opportunity to write about the skills they have learned and where they may need to improve as well as note their strengths. Lastly, it provides students an opportunity self-report their grades in a multitude of different areas. Teachers can decide whether to incorporate the self-reported grades into their overall grade or use this data as information to help students determine whether they have reached their goals for the school year. Google Forms is used to see trends for the classes I teach so I can see how far my students have come as well as where I need to improve my instruction for next school year.

Year in Review Self-Assessment Using Google Forms


Regardless of your students grade or ability level, provide them an opportunity self-reflect, self-assess, and self-report grades because it gives them a multitude of opportunities throughout the year to practice metacognition. Metacognition allows our students to become life long learners, which gives them the efficacy and confidence to think about or dialogue with others about their abilities and skill sets. Furthermore, we want our students to consistently look to grow and improve. By focusing on practicing metacognition throughout the year, it gives your students an opportunity to do this. On the teacher side of the equation, teachers have the opportunity to review this data and learn more about their students than ever before besides our student to teacher to student relationship, evaluating student work artifacts, and analyzing assessment scores. Evaluating the self-assessment data is critical in focusing on improving your instruction for all of your students and personalizing learning for your students by conversing with your students to work on improving gaps in their learning and making their strengths shine.


Flavell, J. H. (1976) Metacognitive aspects of problem solving. In L. B. Resnick (Ed.), The nature of intelligence
(pp. 231–236). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Hartman, H. J. (2001). Metacognition in Learning and Instruction: Theory, Research and Practice. Dordrecht: Kluwer
Academic Publishers.

Kluger, A.N. & DeNisi, A. The effects of feedback intervention on performance: a historical review, a meta-analysis, and
a preliminary feedback intervention theory. Pyschological Bulletin, 199(2), 254-284.

Published by Matthew Rhoads, Ed.D.

Innovator, EdTech Trainer and Leader, University Lecturer & Teacher Candidate Supervisor, Consultant, Author, and Podcaster

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