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by Nicole Lauzon, OCT, Educational Consultant, LDAO

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What is Self-Assessment?

“Student self-assessment is the process by which the student gathers information about and reflects on his or her own learning … [it] is the student’s own assessment of personal progress in knowledge, skills, processes, or attitudes” (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2002, p. 36).

Self-assessment leads a student to a greater awareness and understanding of himself or herself as a learner. (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2002).

Self-assessment has been shown to improve student achievement significantly, particularly for students with learning disabilities (LDs)(Black & William, 1998; Chappuis & Stiggins, 2002; Rolheiser & Ross, 2001; White & Frederiksen, 1998).

Self-esteem plays a crucial role in accurate and meaningful self-assessment and goal setting for students with LDs. According to Rolheiser et al. (2000), self-confidence influences the learning goals that students set and the effort they devote to accomplishing those goals. An upward cycle of learning results when students with LDs confidently set learning goals that are moderately challenging yet realistic, and then exert the effort, energy, and resources needed to accomplish those goals.

How to Support Students with Self-Assessment

By explicitly teaching students how to set appropriate goals and assess their work realistically and accurately, teachers can help to promote this upward cycle of learning and self-confidence (Ross, 2006).

When students assess themselves, they:

  • Think about what they have learned and how they learned it;
  • Monitor and regulate their learning, while they are learning;
  • Discover their strengths and areas for improvement;
  • Realize that they are responsible for their own learning;
  • Assess the quality of their work and their knowledge;
  • Set learning goals and make plans to achieve them;
  • See the progress that they have made in all subjects.

Self-assessment is a continuous process. It starts when the student reflects on his/her learning, taking stock of his/her interests and metacognitive processes and making use of achievement charts, checklists, and marking schemes. Students may record these thoughts in a journal, diary or portfolio. Students may then use them to set learning goals, which lead to further self-assessment to determine whether the learning goals and outcomes have been achieved.

It is important to note that, “Peer and self-assessment must not be included in the evidence of student achievement for evaluation since the evaluation of student learning is the responsibility of the teacher” (Growing Success, Ministry of Education).

Tools & Strategies to Engage Students in Self-Assessment

The ability to self-assess effectively develops over time and with experience (Cassidy, 2007). With this in mind, it is helpful for teachers to select tools and strategies that can be used in all divisions. The tools and strategies suggested below should be adapted by teachers to suit the various needs of their diverse student population. Teachers need time to learn these tools and strategies as they promote a shift away from quantitative to qualitative learning. Each allows for self-assessment of both process and product, and focuses on assessment for learning. Each demands that students revisit their own work, engage in reflection and set goals for improvement (Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat Capacity Building Series, 2008).

Tools for self-assessment may include:

  • checklists (e.g. PENS for sentence writing, POWER for writing assignments and COPS for proofreading and editing),
  • surveys,
  • interviews,
  • interest inventories,
  • exemplars,
  • rubrics,
  • portfolios,
  • audio/video recordings, and
  • peer conferencing.

The Secretariat’s Special Edition #4 on Self-Assessment provides educators with suggestions on how to implement each of these tools and strategies, along with a growth continuum for teacher reflection (p. 6 – 8): Click here to access the Secretariat's Special Edition on Self-Assessment, in PDF.

LD@school has developed a series of forms that educators may download and use with their students to promote self-assessment!

Image of Primary Assessment Form

Click here to access the printable Self-Assessment Form for primary students.

image of Junior Assessment Form

Click here to access the printable Self-Assessment Form for junior students.

Click here to access the printable Self-Assessment Form for intermediate/senior students.

Related Resources on the LD@school Website

Click here to access the answer to the question How can I adapt my assessments to better meet the needs of my students with LDs?.

Click here to access expert advice on Assessments and Assistive Technology.

Click here to access the article Cognitive Conditions and Self-Regulated Learning.

Additional Resources

The Ontario Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat produced “The Capacity Building Series” to support leadership and instructional effectiveness in Ontario schools. Click here to access the PDF on student self-assessment.



Chappuis, J. (2009). Seven Strategies of Assessment for Learning. Toronto: Pearson Canada.

Davies, A (2008). L’évaluation en cours d’apprentissage. Montreal: Éditions de la Chenelière.

Cameron, C. and Davies,A. (2000). Self-Assessment and Goal-Setting. Connections Publishing.

Glasson, T. (2009). Improving Student Achievement, A Practical Guide to Assessment For Learning. Melbourne: Educational Services Australia.

Reid, G. and Green, S. (2007). 100 Ideas for Supporting Pupils With Dyslexia. London: The Continuum International Publishing Group.

Ontario Ministry of Education (2010). Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation and Reporting in Ontario's Schools, First Edition Covering Grades 1 to 12. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Available at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/policyfunding/success.html

Ontario Ministry of Education (2003). The Ontario Curriculum Unit Planner: Assessment Companion. Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario. Available at https://faculty.nipissingu.ca/warnier/resources/downloads/AssessmentCompanion.pdf.

Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. (2007). Capacity Building Series. Special Edition # 4. Student Self-Asssessment. Toronto: Queen’s Printer for Ontario. Available at http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/literacynumeracy/inspire/research/StudentSelfAssessment.pdf

Tomlinson, C. and McTighe, J. (2010). Intégrer la différenciation pédagogique et la planification à rebours. The French translation of Integrating differentiated instruction & understanding by design: Connecting content and kids. Montreal: Les Éditions Chenelière Éducation.