Project-based learning demands a more progressive means of assessment where learners can view learning as a process and use problem-solving strategies to meet or exceed project expectations. Rubrics and scoring guides have been implemented into today’s classrooms to give learners a better understanding of what is being assessed, what criteria grades are based upon, and what clear and compelling product standards are addressed. The focus of rubrics and scoring guides is to monitor and adjust progress rather than just to assess the end result.
Rubrics and scoring guides offer several advantages for assessment:
- Learner performance is improved by clearly showing them how their work is assessed and what is expected.
- Learners become better judges of the quality of their own work.
- Learners have more informative feedback about their strengths and areas in need of improvement.
- Learners become aware of the criteria to use in providing peer feedback.
- Criteria are determined in specific terms.
- Assessment is more objective and consistent.
- Amount of time spent assessing learner work is reduced.
- Effectiveness of teaching and learning is examined using multiple methods.
- Progress is measured and documented against benchmarks.
As a guide for planning, rubrics and scoring guides give learners clear targets of proficiency. With these assessments in hand, they know what quality looks like before they start working. When learners use such assessments regularly to judge their own work, they begin to accept more responsibility for the end product. It cuts down on the "Am I done yet?" questions.
As a gauge for monitoring progress while the project is under way, rubrics and scoring guides can be handy tools to help keep learners on target. Learners can compare their progress with where they want to be on the proficiency scale, and refer to this in order to remind themselves of their goal.
Finally, as a summative assessment, rubrics and scoring guides can be used to assess projects, learner groups, or individual learners. Learners can use the same rubrics and scoring guides for self-assessment as individuals, in groups, and for peer feedback.
In order to be effective, the language used within each rubric and scoring guide needs to be understandable to learners. Using first-person language helps reinforce learner ownership of the assessment process. Rubrics and scoring guides become even more powerful when learners help develop them. Learners must actively focus on and discuss the characteristics of effective performances, products, and behaviours, giving them much deeper understanding and insight. Developing their own criteria for assessment also empowers learners and as a result, their learning becomes more focused and self-directed.
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