Improving evaluative judgement: Countering the Lake Wobegon effect

Kieran Fergus Lim


Evaluative judgement is the ability to objectively evaluate the quality of one's own work. This is an important metacognitive skill for all students and graduates. The tendency of inexperienced people to over-estimate their ability is called illusory superiority, which is also called the Lake Wobegon effect, after the fictional town where "all the children are above average", or the Kruger-Dunning effect, after the Ig Nobel Prize winners.

In this study, students were rewarded if their self-evaluation was consistent with the evaluation of an academic marker. It was found that self-evaluations were consistent with markers' evaluations when a binary (achived / not-achieved) marking scheme was used. For multi-mark, non-binary marking schemes, students would eventually recalibrate their self-evaluations over a few assessment cycles.


Evaluative judgement; illusory superiority; self-evaluation

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