The Illusion of Knowing in College:

A Field Study of Students with a Teacher-Centered Educational Past


  • Maura Pilotti
  • Khadija El Alaoui
  • Huda Mulhem
  • Halah Al Kuhayli


In the present study, the tendency to overestimate performance (illusion of knowing) was examined in college students whose educational past experiences had emphasized verbatim learning. Female students enrolled in core curriculum classes were sampled. Classes taught by the same instructor were randomly assigned to a self-assessment practice condition, where students predicted their test and class performance and were asked to reflect on discrepancies between predictions and actual performance, or to a control condition. At the end of the semester, irrespective of condition, as performance declined on the final test, predictions of final test grades became more inflated, but less confident, indicating that students were aware of their own deficiencies. Overall, students in the practice condition displayed not only greater prediction accuracy, but also greater final test performance than students in the control condition. Practice, however, benefited the most self-assessment accuracy of students whose final test grades were just above the passing grade. Although the responses to self-assessment practice of students with a teacher-centered educational past were largely similar to the responses of students from Western countries reported in the extant literature, differences in impact and meaning could be inferred.