Wednesday / July 24

How to Help Students Self-Assess Learning

As a successful teacher, you keep student achievement at the forefront of your work. Although you are faced with the vastly different learning styles of your highly diverse students, your goal is to design your classroom environment and instruction in a manner that allows for all students to think critically, attain knowledge, and acquire skills. Student engagement is a cornerstone of that process of beneficial educational outcomes. Although designing instruction that is engaging and meets students’ needs can be a challenge, instruction encompassing approaches that are differentiated and include ingredients of STRATEGIC, SYSTEMATIC, and DELIBERATE implementation result in student success. Methodology that promotes student self-directed and reflective learning precisely correlates to and influences student-centered learning and outcome-based instruction.

Your use of strategic assessments directs your attention to students’ needs and helps determine learning goals and instruction. When students are involved in the process and design of learning goals, their self-awareness of what they already know, as well as their familiarity with the standards-based learning outcome expectations develops. Including the component of students’ personal interests in designing learning goals is motivating. Structured self-reflection guides students in developing plans for the process of meeting goals and learning. This strategic, systematic, and deliberate process allows students to become aware of expectations, their current abilities & needs, and interests. In other words, students become engaged and self-directed learners.


The following is an example of a graphic organizer for systematically implementing a process for student goal setting, monitoring progress, and self-reflection based on a California Common Core State Standard in English Language Arts.

Grade 2 Reading Standard for Literature RL 10. Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

By the end of the year, read and comprehend literature, including stories and poetry, in the grades 2–3 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.

Cavataio post

In summary, student self-assessment supports and engages students in learning through the following instructional ingredients:


  • Differentiating instruction reduces obstacles to learning and provides optimal supports as well as challenges.
  • Engaging students in learning includes students taking an active role in their own growth.
  • Involving students in their own process of learning develops a sense of pride in what they do.
  • Motivating students to attain goals they set for themselves is intrinsically rewarding.
  • Monitoring/charting their individual performance reinforces and supports progress toward the desired outcome.


  • Defining, designing, organizing, and implementing methods for student self-monitoring and self-reflection (of both performances and behaviors) not only engages students, but provides evidence of student growth and needs.


  • Instructional approaches are fashioned to provide opportunities for students to increase abilities, acquire knowledge, and develop critical thinking skills.


In what ways do you already have students engage in self-assessment and reflection? What could you add starting tomorrow? Please share those and any other ideas in a comment below.


Written by

Georganne Schroth-Cavataio is a veteran teacher of 30 years in both general and special education. Ms. Cavataio’s educational background includes a Masters degree in Education from San Jose State University (SJSU) with an emphasis on cross-cultural literacy for an equitable society. Additionally, her educational credentials include: Education Specialist, Reading Specialist, and Multiple Subjects. Within these many educational capacities, Ms. Cavataio has had opportunities to work with diverse populations ranging in ages from preschool through adult. She has mentored both special education and general education beginning teachers in grades K-12 locally and nationally with The New Teacher Center eMSS online mentoring program and Santa Cruz/Silicon Valley New Teacher Project. Ms. Cavataio has supervised student teachers and Interns for the Department of Special Education at SJSU. She has published with the education journal Academic Exchange Quarterly, and co-authored articles for the National Teacher Education Journal, and NASSP: Principal Leadership. Georganne is the co-author of Mentorship of Special Educators.

Latest comments

  • Thank you for this timely blog! I am sharing with my NTP participating teachers today.

    • Hi Jo Anne,
      Thank you for your comment!
      Hearing how the new teachers you are working with implement the idea of students self-assessing and/or adapt the graphic organizer for use in their own classroom would be such a valuable additional resource for others reading this article. Perhaps you or the teachers can share results here.
      Thanks for your ongoing support for new teachers.
      Best Wishes,

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