Self-Assessment of Knowledge: A Cognitive Learning or Affective Measure?

Traci Sitzmann, Katherine Ely, Kenneth G. Brown, Kristina N. Bauer
Academy of Management Learning and Education, Vol. 9  Issue 2,  pp. 169-191

We conducted a meta-analysis to clarify the construct validity of self-assessments of knowledge in education and workplace training. Self-assessment’s strongest correlations were with motivation and satisfaction, two affective evaluation outcomes. The relationship between self-assessment and cognitive learning was moderate. Even under conditions that optimized the self-assessment-cognitive learning relationship (e.g., when learners practiced self-assessing and received feedback on their self-assessments), the relationship was still weaker than the self-assessment-motivation relationship. We also examined how researchers interpreted self-assessed knowledge, and discovered that nearly a third of evaluation studies interpreted self-assessed knowledge data as evidence of cognitive learning. Based on these findings, we offer recommendations for evaluation practice that involve a more limited role for self-assessment.