The accuracy of self-assessment in engineering mechanics

Amie Baisley, Keith D. Hjelmstad, Efhalia Chatziefstratiou

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The ability to reflect on one's own learning is a critical skill for students to have, but courses rarely offer dedicated time to develop that skill. The use of self-assessment, where the student assesses their own work, can help them to develop this metacognitive skill. It also aids the process of providing formative feedback as it drives the students to reflect on their performance by comparing their work to the instructor's solution. Through this process, they gain insight and timely feedback on their mistakes and how to avoid them on the next assessment. In fact, the genesis of the self-assessment process we employ was motivated by the observation that many students would refuse to look at the detailed solution to the exam problem because they “didn't want to see how bad they did.” Self-assessment also holds the potential to lessen the grading burden for the instructor. The study described in this paper looks at the accuracy of student self-assessments in three mechanics courses (Statics, Dynamics, and Deformable Solids). The students were asked to grade their own assessments using a rubric (the same one used by the grader) and comparing their work to the instructor's solution. To motivate accurate assessment, students are granted engagement points for objectives where their grade matches the instructor's grade. Thus, the best strategy is to seek alignment with the instructor and not to inflate or deflate their self-measure of success. This information is fed back to the students through the semester, giving them the opportunity to refine their self-assessment strategy. The scores that students have provided are compared to the instructor's grade to assess the accuracy of self-assessment. We have found that the students matched the instructor-determined grades less than 50% of the time, demonstrating that self-assessment is not an accurate alternative for grading high stakes exams. The final grades in the course were higher for students who completed the self-assessment exercises as compared to students who elected not to do self-assessments, suggesting that either the students who are taking the time to reflect are learning and performing better, or the already academically high achieving students are the ones most likely to complete the self-assessments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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