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Self feedback is a guided process in which students evaluate their own work according to marking criteria. It is often combined with self-assessment in a structured formative activity, but can also be a part of summative assessment. Self feedback and assessment are frequently coupled with Peer Feedback and Assessment.

Advantages of Self Feedback and Assessment

  • Provides students with the impetus to step back from their work and evaluate it with fresh eyes
  • Can improve students’ performance and learning outcomes
  • Encourages metacognitive reflection on students’ work in reference to both external and internal motivators
  • Can increase students’ use of self-regulated learning strategies and their self-efficacy
  • Empowers students to take ownership of their learning

Good Practice in Developing Self Feedback Skills

It is recommended that methods of developing students’ self feedback skills are embedded into one or more first-year modules in every programme, but self feedback can be encouraged in any context. The following is one example of a self feedback process, based on a model devised by Yan and Carless (2022) and influenced by Nicol (2020, 2021):

  1. Applying assessment criteria: the lecturer introduces students to the marking criteria and how they are applied to an exemplar. Groups of students then practice applying the criteria to further exemplars. (This is also the first step in most peer feedback processes.)
  2. Self-reflection:
    a. Student creates a first draft of their assessment.
    b. Student reviews others’ work (peers’ work, as part of peer feedback, or exemplars)
    c. Student writes (or records) a reflection comparing their work to the work they have reviewed.
    d. Student identifies strengths and weaknesses of their draft and makes a plan to improve it.
    e. Ideally, the student receives feedback from the lecturer on their reflection and on their plan.
  3. Self-assessment judgement and calibration: the student revises their work and then uses the marking criteria, further exemplars and lecturer and/or peer feedback to continue to calibrate their self-assessment to match the assessment brief and the criteria.

This kind of process can be incorporated into the formative and summative assessment cycle as a whole. For example, the draft and self-reflection could constitute the formative assessment while the final submission (and potentially a further reflective piece) would constitute the summative.

Note that elements of this process are especially pertinent to essays, but that it could be adapted to many different forms of coursework.

Encouraging Ongoing Self Feedback

Once students have been introduced to self feedback in a highly scaffolded fashion, elements of the process can be built into assessments to encourage them to continue to develop these skills. Some examples include:

  • Including drafts, reflections and plans with final summative submissions
  • Iterative projects with regular self-reflective tasks
  • Learning journals as part of group projects, placements or dissertations
  • Self feedback as part of peer assessment practices
Further Reading

Nicol, D. (2020) The Power of Internal Feedback: Exploiting Natural Comparison Processes, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 46(5): 756–778.

Nicol, D. & McCallum, S. (2021) Making Internal Feedback Explicit: Exploiting the Multiple Comparisons That Occur during Peer Review, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47(3): 424-443.

Panadero, E., Brown, G.T. & Strijbos, J.W. (2016) The Future of Student Self-Assessment: a Review of Known Unknowns and Potential Directions. Educational Psychology Review, 28, 803–830.

Yan, Z. & Carless, D. (2022) Self-assessment is about more than self: the enabling role of feedback literacy, Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 47(7) 1116-1128.