Toward a common understanding of self-assessment


  • Joan Sargeant PhD

    Corresponding author
    1. Office of Continuing Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Canada
    • Office of Continuing Medical Education, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University, 5849 University Avenue, Halifax, NS, Canada, B3H 4H7
    Search for more papers by this author


Self-assessment and its role in self-regulation and lifelong learning lack clarity. A goal of this Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions issue is to begin to clarify our current understanding of self-assessment and what it entails, as seen through an educational lens. The purpose of this summary article is to synthesize briefly the definitions of self-assessment proposed by the authors, their perspectives on external and internal factors influencing and/or inherent in self-assessment, and common messages for educational research and practice. Among the seven authors, there appears to be unanimity in conceptualizing self-assessment within a formative, educational perspective, and seeing it as an activity that draws upon both external and internal data, standards, and resources to inform and make decisions about one's performance. Multiple external sources can and should inform self-assessment, perhaps most important among them performance standards, eg, clinical practice guidelines, and use of formal practice audit and feedback approaches. Equally important, internal factors or capacities also influence one's ability to self-assess and self-monitor, such as reflection, mindfulness, openness, curiosity. In summary, these articles aid in our appreciation of the complexity of self-assessment as a formative activity and identify multiple implications for educational practice and research.