Assessing Thinking in Projects
All learner-centred projects have the potential for embedding assessment of 21st Century skills. Often, however, selecting specific skills to focus on in a project can be difficult. Furthermore, describing what a particular skill looks like in a specific context can be a challenge. Assessing Projects is designed to help with this process. It provides rubrics, scoring guides, and checklists that focus on 21st Century skills and defines what these skills look like in the context of the project.
For example, the rubric for the project, The Great Bean Race, an exemplary Proejct Plan from Designing Effective Projects, breaks down the analysis of a science investigation into the following subtopics which are more precise and easier to observe and document:
- Successfully draws several conclusions based on evidence
- Considers additional variables when comparing findings with others to determine the best conditions for growing plants
- Compares previous knowledge about plants to the results of the experiment and describes new learning in detail
Narrow, specific descriptions of thinking skills, such as these, also provide teachers with useful information about specific types of thinking in which learners need more support.
The Assessment Library includes assessments for 21st Century skills. All of these assessments can be easily adapted to suit the needs of teachers.
Assessing Thinking Skills and Processes
When planning and assessing learner learning, teachers often use general terms such as “critical thinking” or “problem solving” to describe their objectives. Such terms are difficult to assess because they include so many subskills. Broad descriptions do not provide the information necessary to collect accurate data on the thinking abilities of learners.
Assessing Projects can provide useful information on the different subskills involved in thinking. For example, instead of assessing learners on a general term like “creativity,” a checklist on fluency in creativity in elementary grades lists the following skills which are easy to recognize in a variety of situations:
- Thinks of many different ideas
- Looks at things from different points of view
- Generates several possible solutions to a problem
- Thinks of several ways to reach a goal
A Thoughtful Classroom Environment
Learners do not acquire and develop 21st Century skills within a single lesson or even within one project. These skills must be emphasized throughout all learner learning experiences. To create a thoughtful classroom environment, teachers and learners must develop a language of thinking, self-direction, and collaboration that they all use consistently. The assessments and background information in Assessing Projects provide the terminology teachers need to use when discussing project work. As learners become more familiar with the language of thinking, they become more metacognitively aware of their thinking processes and develop more control of their thinking, helping them become mature, strategic thinkers.
< Return to Overview and Benefits
< Back to Page 2 of 2