I do not like the self-assessment software that comes with Desire2Learn, my institution's chosen LMS. It is semester break, and I'm writing my own self-assessment software. My software identifies wrong answers, marks right answers, and provides feedback for all incorrect answers and any correct answers where the student requests it. These electronic quizzes are delivered anonymously and in no way affect the student's grade.

I asked a colleague to do an informal peer review of the software, and she complained that no score is calculated. I did that on purpose in the belief that scoring could discourage the student who needs to put forth more effort. My colleague says the score is what tells students they need to work harder.

So, my non-opinion-based question is, is there any research one way or another concerning scoring self-assessments?

  • 1
    One argument against scoring is that the distribution of topics and difficulties may not be the same as in the exam; usually these tests are easier and focused in the foundations. "You failed me, yet I always got 50-60% in the self-tests."
    – Davidmh
    Commented May 15, 2015 at 18:04
  • An argument for it is that if it doesn't assess a student
    – jvriesem
    Commented May 20, 2015 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


The purpose for student self-assessment is formative in nature and is typically to encourage reflection and monitoring of learning. There are several papers that highlight effective practises in formative assessment in higher education, the foremost being Sadler[1] and Nicol[2].

Central to both of these is students knowing what constitutes good performance. Depending upon the nature of your questions, an overall met/not met summary of expectations presented to the student can provide them with a measure of performance. It is simply an indicator that they still have to practise and work on some aspects to achieve a desired performance level.

Sadler, D. R. (1989). "Formative assessment and the design of instructional systems." Instructional Science 18: 119-144.

Nicol, D. and D. Macfarlane-Dick (2006). "Formative Assessment and self-regulated learning: a model and seven principles of good feedback practice." Studies in Higher Education 31(No.2): 199-218.

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