What is self-evaluation?

elt learner-centred pedagogy self-evaluation Oct 22, 2021

By Dr Jeremy Koay

A limited view

While learner-centred pedagogy is a common idea, evaluation is usually teacher-centred for a number of reasons. The belief that only teachers should evaluate students’ progress is driven by the idea that teachers are language learning experts. Advocates of this belief also reason that students are not capable of identifying their strengths and weaknesses. Although this reason is valid, I would argue that this is because students are not given the opportunity to reflect. With guidance from their teachers, self-evaluation can result in a positive learning environment and promote lifelong learning.

A holistic view

Self-evaluation, in the broadest sense, refers to individuals consciously reflecting on their strengths and weaknesses. This awareness has positive effects on learners’ confidence and self-esteem (Porto, 2001).

A holistic self-evaluation involves reflecting on individual achievements by asking the following questions:

1.   To what extend have I achieved my learning goals?
2.   How far have I come?
3.   Am I satisfied with my achievements?
4.   Where do I want to go from here?

The above questions help learners think about their achievements and progress by considering where they have started from, rather than by evaluating themselves in relation to other students’ achievements. Also, these questions encourage learners to take responsibility of their own learning (Porto, 2001), because only they themselves can authentically answer the questions.

Theory and practice

Part of implementing self-evaluation in a course involves guiding learners in setting goals at the beginning of the course. As learners do not necessarily have clear goals, they should be given ample time to think about what they would like to achieve, with some input from teachers. Both teachers and learners should be aware that these goals may evolve over the duration of the course. This implies that learners should review and revise their goals as they evaluate their achievements.

In an academic writing course, for example, a self-evaluation checklist can help learners monitor their own progress. As an important goal of this course is to help learners become independent writers, self-evaluation is an effective exercise. However, teachers should ensure that the checklist is as specific as possible (Purwanti, 2015) and reflects the course learning objectives.


Porto, M. (2001). Cooperative writing response groups and self-evaluation. ELT Journal, 55(1), 38-46.

Purwanti, T.T. (2015). The implementation of self-assessment in writing class: A case study at STBA LIA Jakarta. TEFLIN Journal, 26(1), 97-116.

Dr Jeremy Koay is a New Zealand-based Independent Researcher and a Research & Development Consultant at EduMaxi. He obtained his PhD in Applied Linguistics from Victoria University of Wellington in 2015. His research interests include Discourse Analysis, Genre Analysis and TESOL.

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