What is self-assessment?

Self-assessment is arguably the most powerful means for a tertiary education organisation (TEO) to understand and improve its educational performance. Self-assessment is a systematic process of data-driven self-reflection. It is directed towards coherent and clearly articulated goals to inform decision-making and operational practices.

Self-assessment across an organisation has four main components:

  • Systematic data gathering
  • Robust data analysis that leads to valid conclusions
  • Reflective processes that involve all people in the organisation
  • Decision-making for ongoing improvement connected to the outcomes of a self-reflective process.

TEOs generate and gather a large amount of data. Analysing and making sense of this data enables better decision-making. Good self-assessment is only possible when a range of people in the organisation are involved, e.g. teachers, non-teaching staff, students and other stakeholders such as employers.

Self-assessment enables a tertiary education organisation to find out:

  • what outcomes, learners are achieving and how well
  • the value of the outcomes to stakeholders including learners
  • the effectiveness of processes in contributing to these outcomes.

By identifying strengths and weaknesses, a TEO can develop and implement an improvement strategy resulting in actual, worthwhile improvements.

Key features of effective self-assessment

NZQA does not prescribe how to conduct self-assessment. However, any process should be comprehensive, authentic, transparent, robust.

The focus of your processes should be on:


what is being achieved and the value for learners, employers and the wider community

Needs assessment

the extent to which TEOs systematically determine and address the needs of learners, employers and the wider community

Processes and practices

the processes and practices that help to achieve outcomes, e.g. the primary importance of good teaching, or the role of effective learner support services

Learner achievement

the impact of educational provision on learner progress and achievement

Using what is learned

evidence-based conclusions and decision-making that will feed into strategic and business planning, leading to positive change

Actual improvement

the extent to which improvements are relevant and worthwhile

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