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Self-assessment as an entry point for Adaptive Learning

Evan Friburg |

New functionality! The Domoscio Hub individualization tool now includes self-positioning to assess the learner’s skills and build a tailor-made learning path. Let’s discover the benefits of this method in an Adaptive Learning approach.

The benefits of self-assessment 

The principle of self-assessment is simple: ask the learner to assess them own level of proficiency on  knowledge or skills. Unlike the assessment questionnaire – in which the learner answers a succession of questions (MCQs, MCQs, fill-in-the-blank text, matching, etc.) – self-assessment invites the learner to select them level for each skill, on a scale to be defined: for example, from 1 to 4, from “Beginner” to “Expert”, from “I have never applied the skill” to “I apply the skill every day”, etc.

What are the benefits of a self-assessment approach for the different actors of the training system?

  • The learning designer can use self-assessment to save time. Creating an evaluation test is often a time-consuming activity for the pedagogical teams. Self-assessment may be preferred because it requires a smaller volume of questions: for a classic assessment quiz, it is necessary to ask the learner several questions on each item to know their level of proficiency, whereas self-assessment will only need one question per item. Moreover, each question can be contextualized with specific behaviors corresponding to each level of proficiency on a skill.
  • For the learner, it can have a positive impact on them commitment and involvement in the training: a summative assessment is sometimes experienced by the learner as a “sanction” and can generate stress; with self-assessment, the learner takes a step back from them learning and is given responsibility of assessing their level and progress. Thanks to the contextualization of the levels of proficiency (see above), they gain visibility on the skills they have. It will also save time since a self-assessment will be shorter than an evaluation since only one question will be asked per item to be evaluated.
  • Finally, for the manager, the self-assessment brings value in that he will be able to compare the results with them own assessment of the employee’s skills.

What use in Adaptive Learning?

Skills assessment is essential in an Adaptive Learning path: it allows the system to measure a learner’s skills and to build a tailor-made learning path, in which the learner will train only on the skills he needs to develop. In fact, the pre-training questionnaire is usually the entry point to the individualized course.

While the assessment quiz is an excellent way of assessing knowledge, its’ relevant to implement a self-assessment approach in two cases:

  • Firstly, when we want to digitally assess skills that cannot be measured through a traditional quiz. Like for example behavioral competences (soft skills).
  • Secondly, when the learning path is followed independently by the learner and covers non-compulsory subjects (other than compliance, for example): in this case, self-assessment will enable the learner to be involved by making them responsible from the start of the course, since it will be up to them to define the starting point of them training.  Thanks to Adaptive Learning, they will then benefit from targeted recommendations for educational content, adapted to the gap between the proficiency they feel they have, and the expected proficiency.

An assessment method integrated into Domoscio Hub

Self-assessment is now a feature of Domoscio Hub adaptive tool. It can be used upstream of the learning path to assess the learner’s skills gap with regard to expected jobs, and downstream to measure the learner’s progress. In terms of user experience, the learning path remains integrated with the organization’s LMS (or other training platform): from their LMS, learners access their Adaptive Learning path, complete their self-assessment questionnaire and receive recommendations for educational content, to be followed synchronously (face-to-face, virtual class) or asynchronously.

It is the instructional designer who configures the assessment method. From the Domoscio Hub authoring tool, the designer can define for each learning path whether he wishes to use assessment, self-assessment, or both. He then chooses the desired scale of levels as well as the wording for each level of proficiency, allowing the application of the skills to be contextualized.

The authoring tool also allows for the semi-automated creation of self-assessment questions.  From the title of the skill, the following question is automatically created: “How would you rate your proficiency of skill X?” The designer then has the choice of keeping this question or editing it, by modifying the text, adding an image, a video…

In practice…

Self-assessment is all the more relevant, from a pedagogical point of view, when it’s used in with another type of assessment in order to avoid any biases in the assessment, such as the impostor syndrome – in which case the learner will tend to underestimate them skills – or, on the contrary, the Dunning-Kruger effect – in which case the learner will tend to overestimate them skills.

It’s therefore advisable to vary the positioning methods and to use them in a complementary manner, by integrating assessment data from, for example, simulation tools, assessment by the manager, by peers, 360°… All these assessment data can be used by Domoscio Hub to measure the skillgap of the learner and to build an individualized learning path.

1 For example, for the competence “Conducting team meetings”, the maximum level of proficiency can be defined as follows: “During each meeting, I achieve the objectives set beforehand, I allocate speaking time appropriately and I define the next steps at the end”.

2 The Dunning-Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which a person with poor mastery of a skill overestimates his or her level. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and stems from an inability to recognize one’s lack of skills.