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Validity Of Student Self Assessments

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Assessing Teaching and Learning

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.1293.1 - 7.1293.7



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Paper Authors

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Donald Headley

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Sanjiv Sarin

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Main Menu Session 3530

Validity of Student Self-Assessments

Sanjiv Sarin, Donald Headley North Carolina A&T State University


This paper examines the validity of self-assessment as a tool for measuring student abilities, in particular, whether self-assessments can be used as valid substitutes for instructor evaluations. Data is obtained from in-class student self-assessments and subsequent course tests that measure the same abilities. Correlation between self-assessment ratings and test scores are used to comment on the validity of self-assessments. Some observations are also made regarding the extent to which students over or under report their abilities on self-reports.

1. Introduction

Interest in valid methods for assessing student outcomes has grown in higher education. This is especially true in engineering education as a consequence of the new Engineering Criteria 2000 (EC 2000) requirements that became fully effective starting from the Fall 2001 visitation cycle. The new EC 2000 criteria represent a major shift in the philosophy behind accreditation of engineering programs. Instead of focusing on resources and inputs provided to an engineering program, the new accreditation criteria emphasize student learning, i.e., outcomes. The use of outcomes assessment data to guide the improvement of educational processes is a cornerstone of EC 20001.

Given the limitations of achievement tests in fulfilling outcomes assessment requirements, the assessment community has recommended several alternative approaches for assessing student outcomes. These include portfolios, capstone design project evaluations, student, alumni and employer surveys, and placement data of graduates. Yet, written surveys administered to current students are the most frequently used assessment instruments, due in part to two reasons – one, they are relatively inexpensive to conduct, and, two, a high response rate is almost guaranteed. A natural question is whether these student self-assessments are valid substitutes for test questions created and scored by an instructor.

This paper reports the results of a study undertaken to examine the validity of student self- assessment surveys as a tool for measuring the mastery of concepts. The term validity is defined as the correlation between self-assessment and test scores on the same measures. The paper reports results of data collected from three courses (two sophomore and one junior) taught over one academic year. The data represent over one hundred students in these courses. St udents

Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education

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Headley, D., & Sarin, S. (2002, June), Validity Of Student Self Assessments Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11265

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