I am interested in hearing alternate approaches to assessing projects other than using rubrics. I want to  begin moving away from rubric use, as I have experienced students tend to work to satisfy the rubric rather than focus on the process of learning (isn't a rubric just another way of answering the student question "What do I need to do to get an A on the project?"). 

While a rubric can be constructed so as to avoid prescriptive language, and consequently prescriptive projects, they then become less effective in assessing the project overall. Further, I am hoping to encourage a more "learning for it's own sake" environment, rather than learning to get a grade as described by the rubric.

Is anyone using pure narratives/personal reflections as the sole project assessment tool?  If so, what are students asked to write? Personal reflections on what was learned through the project? Summary of project goal achievement? What are you looking for in the narratives as evidence of true learning?

Tags: assessment, narrative, pbl, project, rubric

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My first reaction is that the rubric process should include room for reflection and rationale. Perhaps, your school's implementation has a too literal implementation. ?

The rubrics (aka- project assessments) used by our schools in Project Foundry are used this way anyway. They happen as part of the process and are used as tools for demonstrating knowledge and process which prevents them from becoming so grade focused.

Attending today's webinar to hear how Nicole at MNCS does things may provide some concrete ideas. Hope to see you there!
I'm not sure how I would manage 145 narratives and give a fair grade to all that I could defend to a highly educated and involved parent community. I'm a fan of what you measure is what you get. So I'm up for a scale that does include some idea of what kids are aiming at. Of course, creativity, innovation should be included. I like them to know what the end product is and how it will be evaluated. Otherwise I know as a student, that it's pretty stressful trying to guess the teacher's mind, and it gives rise to charges of favoritism.

Learning for it's own sake is the real question here. I think that's really big. Interested to see what others have to post on that question. Sue
I agree that it is stressful to students trying to guess what a teacher wants, but that is exactly the point. Students typically are focused on satisfying an external constituency rather than acting on personally motivated curiosity. This goes back to cultivating a "culture of inquiry." To rephrase this in a slightly different manner, we should endeavor to foster in students a HABIT of curiosity and inquiry.

Perhaps the use of a diverse set of project exemplars would be as (more?) useful in "defining" expectations than a rubric? Also, if the instructor is actively engaged with the students during project completion, offering feedback to the students continually, perhaps a formal assessment of the project is not necessary, and that merely completing the project is sufficient to identify that the student has learned. That is, the process is equally if not more important than the product.
I think your second paragraph is the ticket. I see rubrics play a role in that scenario, but almost a different purpose. In my mind, the challenges playing against what you describe are traditional schedules and silo content areas pushing more cross-curricular feedback away from the process due to a the need to roll things up with a summative grade per a class every quarter or what have you.
Traditional schedules, 145 student contacts a day and silo content areas are the constraints in which I have to find a way to get some level of inquiry science project learning in. It's not ideal but it is probably the reality of many educators. So within that, how do we get pbl more widely distributed?
Negotiate team teaching with a colleague who sees things the same way to emulate some of the characteristics that help with this. Throw Admins the need for authentic 21st Century learning and focus on applied STEM. Capstone projects can serve as a chisel and act as a larger proof of concept.

Unfortunately, systemically hard to do without dedicated admins and more than one teacher willing to take on the challenge. Otherwise tough to scale beyond a handful of good teachers.

Like Clayton Christensen articulates in his Theory of Innovation (specifically in 'Disrupting Class') things will only change when there's enough pressure outside the bubble.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaXmAmj1nb8
I use a very simple process-oriented rubric - usually 10 bulleted tasks @ 10 points each, modified specifically for every project. It supports the learning process for a project from the beginning brainstorming to the end product - which will be shared with their peers. The rubric can certainly include the journaling aspect (complete with drawings) which allows for reflection. Students use this rubric, which I give out at the beginning of the project, as their checklist - or ongoing "scorecard". This helps them to know where to begin, keeps them on task, and helps them to answer the question- "How did I do?" It is also easy to grade and satisfies parents concerns about what the expectiations are for their child.
Would you be willing to share an example with me/us? This sounds great, Cindy.
I think this person has a solution:
http://www.joebower.org/2010/03/detoxing-students-from-grade-use.html

Please let me know what you think.

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