An assessment process should be valid, reliable, and fair. (See http://chiron.valdosta.edu/whuitt/files/artsciassess.html). Assessment and evaluation are related, but are not the same thing. "Assessment" refers to assignments, tasks, and tests that provide information, and "evaluation" refers to judgments based on that information. Developers of widely used, national-level tests such as the SAT or the GRE spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to develop an instrument that is valid, reliable, and fair. They often come under heavy attack for failures in achieving these three goals.
This strongly suggests that an individual teacher who spends a modest amount of time creating a test is unlikely to produce one that is valid, reliable, and fair. It also means that an individual teacher who is developing an assessment procedure for use in ICT-Assisted PBL should not expect perfection!
Students can learn to assess their own work (which is different than assigning a grade to their own work). Similarly, students can learn to provide constructive feedback to other students. Learning self-assessment and peer-assessment can be important learning goals in a PBL lesson. It is not easy to learn to effectively assess one's own work and to provide constructive feedback on other's work. Thus, these are topics well worth addressing in the courses you teach or plan to teach. Here is a reference for an article on self-assessment:
To find out more on peer assessment, use the search term "peer assessment" in Google. I got about 4.9 million hits when I did this on 3/10/05 and 29.2 million hits on 9/11/05.
Quite likely you are familiar with the terms "formative evaluation" and "summative evaluation." Formative evaluation provides feedback in a timely manner so as to allow mid course correction. In a project, assessment may be ongoing and produce formative evaluation feedback to the students in a timely manner. Formative evaluation may provide information used in summative evaluation. Summative evaluation of a project is a final evaluation after the project is completed. Students and teachers often think of a summative evaluation as a final grade. But, a letter or a number cannot adequately represent the time and effort that goes into doing a project, or the product, performance, or presentation resulting from a project. That is one of the reasons that portfolios and portfolio assessment have gained in acceptance and popularity.
Development of Rubrics
The development and use of rubrics or scoring guides is a key concept in PBL assessment. There may be many people involved in assessment. Thus, there may be self assessment, peer assessment, assessment by instructor, and assessment by others. Some important assessment ideas include:
One of the most important aspects of authentic assessment is that the students have a full understanding of the assessment criteria. (Click here for a quick overview of authentic assessment written by Grant Wiggins, a leader in this field.) Part of the learning that needs to go on in PBL is for students to learn to understand the assessment criteria, learn to assess themselves, and learn to assess their fellow students. Specifically, focusing on self assessment, we want to help students develop good answers to:
How can I (a learner) tell if I have learned well enough:
A key aspect of authentic assessment is helping the student learn the details of what is being assessed, why it is being assessed, and how it is being assessed. Assessment becomes a "white box" instead of being a "black box."
Whole Group Activity and Small Group Discussion. Think about the subject course and the subject area you teach. What is unique about assessment in your area, as distinguished from other disciplines? How might assessment on ICT-Assisted PBL be the same as and/or different from the usual assessment that you do? Share in your small group, and then we will do some sharing in the large group.
Whole Group Activity and Small Group Discussion. There is a body of research literature on self-assessment, and its value as a goal of and an aid to student learning. (See the Abstract of an ERIC Digest given below.) Think about the idea of a student being able to provide valid and reliable self assessment. For your own field of teaching and your own style of teaching and assessment, answer the following questions:
As time permits, take a look at your ICT-Assisted PBL lesson. Focus on its goals and objectives. Think about the nature and extent of the assessment you will do for each goal and objective. Also, think about formative evaluation versus summative evaluation. Will you be able to provide useful formative evaluation feedback in a timely manner, so that students can benefit from it as the project proceeds? Or, is your main focus in assessment the awarding of a final grade?
As you think about these questions, be aware that ICT-Assisted PBL may represent a major change in the curriculum, instruction, and assessment methods that you have used for years. Why would you want to try such a risky new venture? Perhaps you are quite satisfied with the results of your current way of teaching.
A rubric is a scoring tool that can be used by students (for self assessment), peers (peer assessment), teachers, and others. It lists important criteria applicable to a particular type or piece of work. It also lists varying levels of possible achievement of the criteria. The following figure gives a very general purpose, six level scoring rubric. This might be useful to the teacher, but it is not useful to the student. The student cannot use this to self-assess or to assess his/her peers.
Note that in each of the examples given below, a six level rubric is presented. An even number of levels (such as four or six) forces an "above the midpoint or below the midpoint" decision on the part of the rater. Some people consider this to be desirable.
Some people might assign letter grades to the levels in the above rubric. They might be F, D, C, B, A, and A+ respectively.
Here are six levels of a general-purpose rubric for assessing student use of ICT tools. It provides more detail for the student and the teacher. However, it still lacks the detail that a student needs in order to self-assess or to assess the work of peers.
Whole group activity. Discuss the following topic. Suppose that the ICT-Assisted PBL lesson you are developing includes an emphasis on students increasing their knowledge and skills in ICT. Then, you have some responsibility for providing assessment on this learning goal. Unless you are quite skilled in ICT, you are apt to be "in over your head." What can you do about this?
One possible answer is that this is an excellent situation for team teaching. A person who is learning to do ICT-Assisted PBL can benefit by having an ICT expert available to help on the ICT components of the teaching and assessment.