Project learning can inspire the best of high-performance teamwork, or it can be devolve into unfocused chaos. How can we support each other to keep our eye on the prize? Share your project ideas, questions, and implementation experiences.

What's in your project assessment toolkit?

Suzie Boss Journalist and PBL advocate

For an upcoming guide for Edutopia, I'm looking for suggestions and resources that help with PBL assessment. Most of us appreciate the value of rubrics and scoring guides for end-of-project assessment, but I'm curious to learn what else is in your toolkit for meaningful assessment. For example:
What are your favorite strategies for formative assessment?
How does assessment change at different stages of a project?
How do you help students evaluate their own progress?
What helps with assessing teamwork and collaboration in PBL?
How do you incorporate feedback from outside experts about student performance or portfolios?
Thanks for sharing your ideas!

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A simple strategy to support student growth over time

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I always provide a rubric to the students at the beginning of the project/activity/lab. I discuss the categories and explain why each of them is important to this assignment. I offer to modify, add or delete categories if the class agrees to do so. Once the assignment begins, I keep one rubric for myself and leave one in the student folder/binder. When I facilitate their work, I carry a colored highlighter and I highlight each student's copy of the rubric, indicating the progress I have viewed thus far (in addition to my own copy). The next time that I visit the group, I use a different colored highlighter. Sometimes I provide students in the group with a highlighter and ask them to evaluate each others progress. When the assignment is complete, students view their improvement over time and the progress that they have made.

I have taken the time to create rubrics that are generic enough to use repeatedly over the course of the year. As a result, students use the same rubrics repeatedly, not only becoming familiar with the evaluative criteria, but also identifying their own strengths and weaknesses. This "helps me" to "help them" focus on areas that require improvement. I also need to note that in doing so, I never penalize a student for lower scores the first time that they use a rubric. The first rubric becomes their baseline. All I ask is that they demonstrate progress over time.

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