Self-Assessment in Pharmacy and Health Science Education and Professional Practice

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Self-assessment has been extensively discussed in health science education and professional practice and is often utilized in both settings. The Accreditation Council on Pharmacy Education (ACPE) states in guideline 11.1 that self-assessment should become a part of the pharmacy curriculum, starting at an early point in the student's career and continuing throughout the curriculum. However, its usefulness in advancing and changing overall outcomes of practice by practitioners has not been realized.

This may stem from educators' and practitioners' belief that self-assessment is easily adapted to professional education and practice. However, understanding self-assessment is more complex than it appears. For example, differing terminology may be used to describe a concept or phenomenon in self-assessment while in other cases a particular term may be used to describe several different concepts or phenomenon. For example, different terminology may be used interchangeably to describe the same concept or phenomenon and, in other cases, the same term is used to describe different concepts and phenomenon. Also, evaluation methods and tools, as well as proposed motivation for an individual's assessment, are often the same for students and practitioners. This vagueness in the tools and terminology may contribute to ineffectiveness in the implementation of self-assessment activities as a pharmacist transitions from the educational to the practice setting. Although self-assessment skills are believed to be teachable and will result in better and more competent students and future practitioners, this assumption has not been rigorously tested and validated.

In order to clarify some of the issues associated with self-assessment, this review will define the terms associated with self-assessment, provide a foundation for integrating self-assessment into professional programs, examine the challenges associated with self-assessment, and discuss how to enhance the self-assessment skills of students as future practitioners.

Self-Assessment vs. Self Reflection vs. Self Evaluation

The literature on self-assessment uses the terms self-assessment, self-reflection, and self-evaluation interchangeably. Andrade defines self-assessment as: "... a process of formative assessment during which students reflect on and evaluate the quality of their work and learning, judge the degree to which they reflect explicitly stated goals or criteria, identify strengths or weaknesses in their work and revise accordingly." (1)

According to this definition, self-assessment is a "process" designed to allow a person to collect information about his/her own performance and compare it with the goals and/or the criteria for his/her work. Self-evaluation involves an individual making summative judgments about his/her own performance. Self-reflection, on the other hand, takes a more global view of learning and is generally a reflection on achievements over a certain period of time or on a particular subject matter; this assessment usually is made without an established set of criteria. (1)

Self-assessment has been described as an "unguided" and "self-generated" method of assessment to differentiate it from self-reflection. Directed self-assessment commonly involves obtaining information from peers, teachers, and other sources. (2,3) Eva and Regehr characterize directed self-assessment as, "... a process which one takes personal responsibility for looking outward, explicitly seeking feedback and information from external sources, and then using the feedback to direct performance improvements." Typically, self-assessment refers to the degree of correspondence between the individual and those providing a summative evaluation of the individual's performance compared to self-evaluation which is a summative or outcome evaluation. The important element distinguishing self-assessment from the other terms is that directed self-assessment seeking behaviors are primarily a "process" for formative evaluation and lifelong self-improvement. …