Diving Into Project-based Learning: Designing the Rubric

project-based learning

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of project-based learning for me was figuring out how I was going to assess it. I’m sure some teachers love assessing and marking student work, but honestly, I’m uncomfortable with most grading and scoring. I appreciate feedback and I  don’t mind giving feedback, but I hate reducing it to a letter, number, or score. To me, it undervalues the learning. I’m skeptical of objective tests because of what those assessments leave out or mismeasure, and I’m suspicious of subjective evaluations because they are, well, subjective.

Nevertheless, most schools required teachers to report student learning in a systematic way, and my school is no different. My school also encourages the use of rubrics to help students, parents, and teachers assess evaluate the learning. I wanted students to understand the expectations for the project, and I needed to insure that they approached the project in a balanced way. I could tell from their enthusiasm that they were eager to get started creating their projects, but I knew it was vital that they really spend some time researching and inquiring about the topics before getting started on the project itself. I also knew I wanted to assess writing, reflecting, and presenting as part of the project-based learning.

I developed the following rubric for the students to use as a guide and for me to use for assessing their work:
project-based learning

You can download the PDF by clicking: Injustice Issue Project Rubric

(Note: For the 6th graders at my school, we assign two types of grades–traditional grades on a 100%/A-F scale and standards-based assessment using a 3-1 proficiency method with three being the highest score.)

I wasn’t completely comfortable with the wording of the rubric even as I shared it with the students, but we needed to get started. Together as a class, we discussed the rubric in detail, but I still worried that the boys’ understanding of the rubric was very different from mine. Nevertheless, this iteration of the rubric would serve as our guide.

What do think about the rubric? What feedback can you give about it? What would you change?

This is the fifth in a series of posts on my “Dive Into Project-based Learning.” If this series interests you, consider reading about my professional goalmy research and resources, or the genesis of this idea, or our project brainstorms. I’d also appreciate any comments, questions, or suggestions you might want to leave below.

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