Using Recently Acquired Knowledge to Self-Assess Understanding in the Classroom

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According to the Dunning-Kruger effect, people with deficits in their knowledge should not be able to recognize those deficits. This study is a demonstration of Kruger and Dunning (1999, Study 4) in a classroom setting, where we applied their method of using increased knowledge in a domain to improve self-assessment in that domain. Participants were 87 female undergraduate students of traditional college age, enrolled in a psychology research methods course. At the beginning and end of a 15-week semester, the students completed an article analysis assessment measuring knowledge of core course content. After completing the assessment, students self-assessed their performance, provided an overall judgment on how confident they felt about the accuracy of their self-assessment, and rated their perceived knowledge of research methods. Results showed that, overall, students were better at self-assessing their performance on the assessment at the end of the semester, after gaining knowledge in research methods (p < .01). High performing students (n = 36) made the greatest gains (p < .01) and were more confident (p < .05) than low (n = 34) and middle (n = 17) performing students. Gaining knowledge over the semester also differentially affected high and low performing students in their perceived knowledge of research methods ratings (p < .05). The results can be used to show students that deficits in knowledge can make it difficult to accurately assess their performance. We discuss recommendations for instructors on how to promote greater student self-insight in the classroom.

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