A Comparative Analysis of Achievement Calibration Accuracy in Developmental and Nondevelopmental College Students

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Abstract

The degree to which students accurately self-assess knowledge, competence, skills, and academic preparedness is related to students' ability to self-regulate learning. Prior research indicates that students who are more accurate in their self-assessments frequently perform at higher levels in the classroom than less accurate peers. In the present study, we examined developmental students' calibration accuracy and we also compared the calibration accuracy of developmental college students to that of regularly-admitted college students. Our findings indicate that developmental college students tend to overestimate their academic performance relative to actual performance. In addition, they are less accurate than nondevelopmental peers in self-evaluating their academic preparedness and competence. Implications for education are discussed.

Numerous studies have examined the relationship of self-regulated learning-the ability to organize, direct, and manage one's learning-to academic achievement (Bandura, 1986; Pintrich, 2000; Pintrich & DeGroot, 1990; Zimmerman & Bandura, 1994, 1989; Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1990). Students who self-regulate their learning are actively engaged in their own learning processes, including analyzing the demands of academic assignments, planning for and organizing their resources to meet those demands, and monitoring their study tactics and achievement (Pintrich, 1995; Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1990; Winne & Jamieson-Noel, 2002). In other words, they take responsibility for acquiring skills and knowledge rather than depending on external sources to regulate their learning. Students who successfully self-regulate their learning are able to monitor their study behavior and utilize a variety of study strategies. By definition, developmental college students possess academic deficiencies related to difficulty in managing and directing their own learning (The National Association for Developmental Education, 2001); therefore, examination of self-regulatory behaviors and cognitions is of interest to developmental educators.

Of particular interest to the self-regulation of learning is the degree to which students' self-evaluations of academic capability or performance actually represent competence. Self-evaluation is an essential component of self-regulated learning because accurate self-evaluations allow the learner to determine whether the learning strategies employed are effective and, if not, to make adjustments (Bandura, 1986; Zimmerman, 1989). In recent years, a growing body of research has investigated students' self-evaluation skill (Beyer, 1999; Hacker, BoI, Horgan, & Rakow, 2000; Koriat, Goldsmith, & Pansky, 2000; Maki, 1998; Pajares & Miller, 1997; Robins & Beer, 2001). Known as achievement calibration, this construct has been operationalized in many different ways, such as the degree to which students accurately predict test-item performance (Winne & Jamieson-Noel, 2001), test grades (Hacker et al., 2000), course grades (Jacobson, 1990), and capability to solve mathematics problems (Pajares & Miller, 1997). Some studies indicate that students tend to overestimate their test and course grades (Hacker, et al., 2000; Jacobson, 1990); however, this inaccuracy is not uniform across college students. Hacker et al. (2000) identified distinctions among college students based on achievement. Higher achieving students were more accurate and improved their accuracy over time, while the lowest achieving students grossly overestimated test performance and maintained this over-optimistic stance throughout the semester, regardless of contradictory feedback.

In general, the findings reveal a bias reflecting a positive illusion of performance or ability. This tendency toward self-enhancement is believed to be adaptive by some researchers (Taylor & Brown, 1988, 1994; Aspinwall & Taylor, 1992). However, others believe that "positive illusions may reflect a more general tendency to bolster self-esteem by denying information that threatens self-worth" (Robins & Beer, 2001, p. …

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