George Lucas Educational Foundation

Assessing student progress during a lab, project, or PBL

Assessing student progress during a lab, project, or PBL

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OK, I am having a little trouble with this, hard for many to believe! I am having trouble with what my principal calls "progress monitoring" of students. My kids do get their projects completed and most very very well, so turning things in is NOT the issue. Getting quality work is not a frequent issue either. But sometimes these projects take more than a week and no grade shows up in the online gradebook in the interim, and this is a problem. We are supposed to have one grade a week. My issue is that to me that is a "fluff" grade. He says to stop and give a quiz or something, but with limited access to technology and limited time to teach a lengthy PBL or such, a day off for a quiz so that I can have a grade feels like so much wasted time! Plus, not all of the kids will be in the same place due to the DI I practice in my classroom. So, if anyone has any suggestions, tips, or tricks, feel free to share away!! Thanks in advance! Beth

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David Wees's picture
David Wees
Formative Assessment Specialist for New Visions for Public Schools

Yeah, that is a problem. Maybe instead of a quiz, the students could present their process journals to you to "grade" (or better yet, give feedback to them). I think your principal is confusing the weekly grade with the idea of a weekly progress report. She's right, in the sense that the students need some sort of feedback on their progress in a more timely fashion than the end of the project, but I think that reducing this feedback to a single number is a bit destructive in terms of what you are trying to produce.

If you look at the IB Middle years technology program as an example, the students work on long self-designed projects over a period of several weeks, but are supposed to be keeping progress journals of what they are working on. The teachers should be able to look at the process journal (and the students often refer back to it when designing their next project) and see where the students are at with their projects.

Tracy Tegtmeier's picture

For my PBL elective Big project I have checkpoints which are all worth a grades.

As of two years ago, I made them use google docs for their final report with one page for each section including background, methods (procedure) and data. They develop the website (and their thoughts) as they go along. One of the default pages types you can use for a timeline or check list and next year I will use that to help with the grading.

I am also experimenting with Wiki's instead of a traditional writing assignment. We usually have them do one per trimester and it is like pulling teeth. If they work in pairs, you can see who does the editing to make sure they are working on the project together and assign scores. We are in the middle of it and so far it is much more positive.

mike lieber's picture
mike lieber
Technology Education - New York

Yes, I agree with Tracy and David. The in class folder or journal you can skim through and put a grade in based on how well they have their in formation gathered is a good tool. In additiion to your principals request, students need regular timely feedback from you. A simple "exit card" - just one question shown on a slide the last 10 minutes of class that students must answer before they leave can be worth a grade. Keep the questions based on provoking thought rather than regurgitating facts and figures. If it is a math exit card, make it a problem that spans a concept and ask for two sentences to explain process. If students know you are using these exit cards as part of thier grading online, they will do their best to "show their stuff". Obviously the weighting for these grades has to be different - but it is a grade. If you had one a week, then each one would be worth 1/10 of a grade. Stagger the day you give them and it should be cake. They really only take 30 seconds to grade and write the student a little feedback.

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