Self-assessment and grading: Fostering relationship in higher education

Year: 2012

Author: Sanber, Shukri, Labone, Elizabeth

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


A basic assumption of modern and contemporary movements in teaching and learning such as assessment for learning is that students are capable of taking major responsibilities towards achieving the agreed upon learning targets of the teaching and learning programs that they are enrolled in. Teaching is a process of building relationships. The aims of teaching and outcomes of learning can be defined as specific forms of relations (Bingham & Sidorki, 2004, p. 6). Enabling students to assess formally their own achievement fosters strong relationship among learners and teachers.  The literature indicates that self-assessment facilitates empowering students to learn (for example, Gibbs and Simpson, 2004). The value of self-assessment is well-recognised (Tara, 2001). It has often been used with formative assessment (Taras, 2001). The responsibility for assigning grades in higher education is assigned to the lecturers who traditionally perform this function within the frameworks of formal and prescriptive assessment and reporting policies. This paper reports the outcomes of an action research study where self-assessment is used as one of the components of final grades in two core courses taught in teacher education programs at an Australian University. The authors implemented an assessment program that combined traditional assessment such as tests and performance assessment tasks. Students had the option of choosing three performance tasks that they completed progressively throughout the semester. The performance tasks incorporated student self-assessment.  The students self-assessed their submissions online within 48 of their due dates and before they received tutors' feedback. The self-assessment protocol that was incorporated used the same marking criteria that were used by the tutors. Upon marking the tasks by the tutors, students were given their marks along with detailed feedback.  Tutors discussed the marking of the performance tasks with their students. They encouraged them to reflect on the detailed feedback that they received and to make use of their experiences when they constructed their next tasks. This paper examines students' perceptions of the value of self-assessment in terms of supporting their own learning and empowering them with a sense of personal agency.