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 across the arc of a project.
Thanks for sharing your ideas. I'll share the guide when it's published.
Initially, great questions. I'll be very interested the responses of others.
In our simCEO simulation, I'm trying quite hard to incorporate meaningful assessments. One problem I have, and I assume any PBL has, is that truly good PBLs, by their nature are open-ended and aim to allow students to get to the goal from various points. Therefore, it takes a good deal of clarity on the teacher's part to communicate the specific outcomes. Without this starting point, no one will have any basis for looking at assessments since we'd have no basis to judge alignment.
So, in structuring the assessments in simCEO (and not knowing exactly what each teacher wants in terms of outcomes), I've tried to guess a bit. But certainly there should be a variety in the TYPES of assessment in a PBL project.
Specifically, I've utilized formative, online dynamic quizzes measuring student understanding. This is not unlike some great formative quizzes that are used in software designs like Web Assign (math, science) to allow students to practice and receive immediate feedback. I've also created a number of worksheets that are linked to the national economic standards but are applicable to the simulation - trying to measure a student's ability to apply the national standards within the project (simulation).
However, the big gap to me is that these types of formative assessments are seen as add-ons, and therefore, I would argue, by their very nature they are not as effective as the project itself. I believe a quality PBL project IS, in itself, a great formative and summative assessment as it plays out. I do not want to say it "does not need" or "doesn't benefit from" additional, supplementary formative or summative assessments. But if those items are viewed as additional (even authentic summative assessments at the conclusion of a unit) those will always be less effective.
Effective PBLs immerse students in a real world situation where all they they are doing is purposeful - the steps along the way can be assessed and students have an intrinsic motivation knowing that there is relevance in their work being assessed along the way.
The more we can do collaboratively and online, the more conducive we make the work (since students know others will be reviewing their work instead of just their teacher) and we also have evidence that can lead to
1) a clearer evaluation of a student's progress
2) a clearer evaluation students' collaboration and teamwork
3) constructive feedback from outside specialists both during and after the project
Thanks so much for sharing your ideas. I hope others will jump into the conversation, too.
I appreciate what you're saying about embedding assessment in the project itself, rather than treating it as an add-on. That's part of making projects authentic. So, it would seem the challenge for teachers is designing assessments that mirror what happens in the real world. What might this look like in practice?
I'm also intrigued by your ideas about the value of having students work online and collaboratively. I often hear that students are more motivated when they share their work publicly (i.e., online, with experts). Motivating students to share their best work is even better.
So, what do others have to say about assessing PBL? What are your favorite tips, strategies, and resources? Where's the biggest challenge?