The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Douglas Wise

If you take a couple of minutes to search for resources that are designed to help students self-assess, you’ll find there are plenty.  Some require students to RAG-rate themselves against a set criteria, usually taken from a mark scheme.  Others enable students to indicate how confident they feel about particular aspects of a topic with the help of cartoonish thumbs pointing upwards and downwards or through a spectrum of expressive emoticons.  Resources like these seem to be popular, and with good reason: it’s important for students to self-consciously reflect on their own learning.  However, making accurate self-assessment judgements isn’t particularly easy to achieve.  At least part of the reason for this is because of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

The Dunning-Kruger effect is a common cognitive bias that leads us to overestimate our abilities in many social and intellectual domains.  Those most susceptible to this form of illusory superiority typically possess limited…

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