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A FIELD-BASED STUDY: UNDERSTANDING THE COGNITIVE PROCESSES AND OUTCOMES ASSOCIATED WITH SELF-ASSESSMENT AND THE ASSESSMENT OF OTHER’S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE. ARTS, EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT. Dr Wally Karnilowicz School of Social Sciences & Psychology June 2010. PREFACE.
A FIELD-BASED STUDY: UNDERSTANDING THE COGNITIVE PROCESSES AND OUTCOMES ASSOCIATED WITH SELF-ASSESSMENT AND THE ASSESSMENT OF OTHER’S ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE
ARTS, EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Dr Wally Karnilowicz
School of Social Sciences & Psychology
University faculties, schools and departments appreciate and reward knowledge of academic content. Students in turn tend to be more competent if they have the ability to learn independently, to be critical and to meet and confront different and new learning expectations associated with an independent awareness of learning requirements and careful observation and scrutiny of one’s own performance. Assessment is a vital aspect of learning and is used to evaluate student’s knowledge of material, understanding of content, ability to conceptualise and the capacity to think critically. Within this assessment framework, colleges and universities also emphasise self-directed education in order to maintain and improve academic performance. An important component of this form of education is self-assessment and the ability to accurately assess one’s own work.
The review of the literature leads to two predictions:
1. Students in general will be able to reasonably and accurately assess their own performance relative to the assessment of the tutor.
2. Higher achieving students will tend to underestimate their self-assessment relative to the assessment of the tutor while the lower achieving student will overestimate their performance relative to the assessment of the tutor.
The latter hypothesis reflects characteristics of self-enhancement and self diminishment in that low achieving participants tend to overestimate or self-enhance the value of their work while high achieving students underestimate or self-diminish the value of their work.
Sixty-four undergraduate Psychology students attending Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, participated in the study. Of this group, there were 12 males of mean age 21.08 years (SD=1.31) and 52 females of mean age 21.75 years (SD=3.70). The students were enrolled in a compulsory third and final year unit of study (History and Theories in Psychology) as part of the major in Psychology.
The assessment task used in this study was a short essay critical review based on readings and associated activities presented in the first four seminar sessions. Students for the study were required to complete a short essay critical review which constituted 30% of their overall assessment requirement. The students submitted their completed 500-750 word critical reviews by the Friday of week four. The research assistants subsequently collected the self assessments from the students in week five. Within the next week the tutor independently assessed each student’s critical review which included the assessed mark and grade along with a description of the associated assessment criteria. The assessed work was then forwarded back to the students.
The first prediction examining the assessment of the student’s performance related to the assessment of the tutor was tested using Pearson Correlation Coefficient. The second prediction was tested using a Two-Factor Within Subjects ANOVA with the high achieving and low achieving student constituted as the between subjects levels of the independent variable and tutor assessments and student self-assessments as the within subjects repeated measures dependent variable
Accuracy of Self-Evaluations Relative to the Evaluations of the Tutor
Student’s self-assessments were relatively accurate estimates of tutor’s assessment of their work (r = .420, p = .001, two-tailed). A closer examination of the results Indicated that the self-assessments of the high achieving group related to the tutor’s assessments (r = .430, p = .025, two-tailed) were more accurate than self assessments of the lower achieving group related to tutor’s estimates (r = .266, p = .199, two-tailed).
Self-Enhancement versus Self-Diminishment Bias: Student’s Self-Assessments in contrast to Tutor’s Assessments
The results of the Two-Factor Within Subjects ANOVA indicated that there was a significant difference in assessments between high achieving and low achieving students across self- and tutor –assessments of performance (F(1,50)=153.918, p=.000, partial η2=.755). In addition, the tests of within-subjects main effects indicated a significant difference between student’s self assessments and tutor’s assessment (F(1,50)=10.221, p=.002, partial η2=.170). Specifically, the student’s self-assessment was higher than the tutor’s assessment of performance. Most importantly and central to the predictions of this study, there was a significant interaction effect between tutor’s assessments and students self-assessments (F(1,50)=167.709, p=.000, partial η2=.770). High achieving student self-assessments were lower than tutor assessments while low achieving student self-assessments were higher than tutor assessments (Figure 1).
The results strongly supported the predictions of this study. First, students in general were able to reasonably and accurately assess their own performance relative to the assessment of the tutor. Nonetheless, and consistent with the research in the area eg., Moreland, Miller and Laucka (1981), low achieving students were less accurate than high achieving students when judging their own work against the assessment of the tutor. Second, higher achieving students tended to underestimate their self-assessment relative to the assessment of the tutor while the lower achieving student tended to overestimate their performance relative to the assessment of the tutor.
While not explicit there was support for the predictions associated with the theories of self-enhancement and self diminishment in that low achieving participants tended to overestimate or self-enhance the value of their work while high achieving students tended to underestimate or self-diminish the value of their work. Consistent with self-enhancement theory (Shrauger, 1975) and the contention that people have a basic desire to feel favourably about themselves some exhibited a degree of self-enhancement bias and overestimated their level of worth related to the specific learning task, others in contrast exhibited a self-diminished bias and underestimated their relative worth related to the task. In addition, John and Robins (1994) suggested that self-evaluations in a specific situation may be both valid and biased and that the nature of the bias varies as a function of individual differences in narcissism.
Of particular concern and consistent with much of the research in this area were the misconceptions of lower achieving or poorer students in their evaluations of performance.
Moreland, Miller and Laucka (1981) further considered that poorer student’s self evaluation was not due to the lack of knowledge of the grading criteria but rather through an inability to apply assessment criteria to their own course work.
A further explanation for the misconceptions and lesser ability of low achieving students to apply set criteria to assessment may be related to general difficulties with being objective (Lindblom-ylänne, Pihlajamäki & Kotkas, 2006). One of the problems of the study is that it dealt with the self-assessment of a conceptual question based on readings and the interpretation of text rather. Consistent with the concerns of Eva et al., (2004) the likelihood of strong assessments in this instance particularly with a lower achieving student is restricted. An alternative theory suggests that if students are unskilled it may cause them to bear a ‘duel burden’, as they will reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices. This incompetence robs them of the meta-cognitive ability to realise the extent of the error and instead they will believe they are succeeding and performing according to their expectations (Kruger & Dunning, 1999).
In contrast to the low achievers, high achieving students while more accurate in their self assessments related to the tutor’s assessment nonetheless underestimated their performance relative to the tutor’s assessment. This result is more difficult to explain however in using the self-diminishment paradigm in relation to self image, students with positive academic self-images may self-diminish by being rated more positively by others and to be content within that framework. Under these circumstances there is a lessened drive to self-enhance. John and Robins (1994) offer a further explanation in contending that those low on narcissism (eg., high achievers) underestimate their contributions (self diminishment bias).
The research assistants, Kirstie Fleetwood and Sarah Rees, were Bachelor of Science in Psychology students from the Department of Psychology, University of Bath, UK, on placement within the School of Social Sciences and Psychology, Victoria University.
Dr Wally Karnilowicz
ARTS, EDUCATION AND HUMAN DEVELOPMENT
Social Sciences and Psychology
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