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Abstract

Although the ability to evaluate one’s own knowledge and performance is critical to learning, the correlation between students’ self-evaluation and actual performance measures is modest at best. In this study we examine the effect of offering extra credit for students’ accurate prediction (self-accuracy) of their performance on four exams in two semester-long classes on Personality. The courses emphasized the role of self-awareness. Despite these motivational interventions and performance feedback, there was minimal change in accuracy over the semester; a large proportion of students remained unrealistically optimistic about their performance in the face of evidence to the contrary. Moreover, inaccurately inflated confidence was related to poorer academic performance. A small minority of students improved in accuracy and exam performance over the each of the courses, offering a potentially useful source of comparison for addressing unrealistic optimism. We discuss the findings as reflecting the powerful influence of protecting self-esteem and suggest the need for realistic self-appraisal as a factor in academic success

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