We might associate evaluating our performance with feedback or marks from a teacher. Self-evaluation happens the moment we see our mark and say: “Gosh, Hannah, you really botched things this time!” Or, on the contrary, “Great! Better than I expected!”  

But, the opposite approach, which is independent of the teacher, is probably better. Why?  

Only you and you alone can learn something, be able to take further steps in your learning, and direct yourself. That’s why it’s important to reflect and evaluate yourself. If we don’t have even the slightest reply to the question “How am I doing with things?”, it’s hard for us to plan and move forward. A teacher is available in only few real-life situations that you’ll find yourself in.  

On the other hand, if you ask another person to provide feedback (a teacher, classmate, etc.), your own self-evaluation can be very important to them too. If the feedback is to be of a high quality, the other party needs a sufficient amount of information. How well did things go specifically? Why did you proceed the way you did? Was it easy or difficult for you? What was easy? What do you need help with?  

The purpose of self-evaluation or self-reflection can be illustrated in this feedback from a student taking a subject at Masaryk University:  

Ultimately, you should compare each evaluation that you get from others with what you think yourself as a conscious individual. If you accept the evaluations of others without thinking something about yourself, you’re setting yourselves up for the risks of manipulation, injury and the creation of an identity that corresponds more to the ideas of others than it does to reality.  

How to learn to self-evaluate 

Firstly, it’s necessary to grasp several points regarding the content of self-evaluation. Secondly, it’s important to train in order to make self-evaluation adequate. Excessive self-criticism prevents you from developing – why would you do something if you “know you you’re no good at it”? It also generally harms your motivation to try at something at all – “it’s no use, I’m worthless”. If your self-evaluation isn’t adequate, you’ll simply be more prone to slipping into self-criticism, tearing up your assignments, and a having a feeling of futility over your actions. In the opposite case, you can be squandering your talent because you don’t realize that your possibilities exceed your established criteria.  

The content of self-evaluation can be as extensive as the depth to which we want to think, how much time we have, and how large and important the task that we fulfilled is. Generally speaking, it’s enough to follow these four elements, which you can answer in several points or in three to five sentences. 

  • What makes my work of good-quality?  
  • What was problematic for me? / What would I need help with?  
  • How did I do in regard to my possibilities?  
  • How did I do in regard to my established goals?  

+ Quality of workshould summarize what you’ve been successful at, what you should praise yourself for, and what you should continue doing. Don’t be afraid to evaluate and appreciate yourself.  

? Open places should describe what you weren’t good at, what you didn’t understand, what you had questions about, and where things were unclear. These places are the keys to further progress. We should definitely not hide them from ourselves or from others.  

@ My possibilities should summarize how I did with a task in regard to my individual possibilities – who I am, what experience I had, how I usually do, and how I did last time. In order to compare contemporary performance with ones in the past, it’s good to write them down into a notepad or your portfolio.  

Goals and criteriashould summarize how I’m doing in regard to my set goals. In school, you should discuss goals with the teacher of your subject at the beginning of the school year and also during individual lessons. Try to ask your teacher to do this. You should set up learning goals in each education plan. This means you can evaluate one class, lesson or task, but also your overall work after fulfilling the given plan.  

With a little practice, you can formulate self-evaluations in your head; however, it’s also useful to write them down. You can write a self-evaluation for a given task, i.e. on paper or into a notebook, but also into your digital portfolio or learning diary. If you write down your self-evaluation, you’ve got something to come back to during your next attempt.  

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