PBL Home Page

Outline of These Materials

1. Future of ICT in Education

2. Learning Goals in a PBL Lesson

3. What is ICT-Assisted PBL?

4. Planning a PBL Lesson

5. Authoring a Hypermedia Document

6. Timeline and Milestones

7. Assessment

8. FAQ and Conclusions

References

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Part 7: Assessment

Assessment process should be valid, reliable, fair, and authentic. "Assessment" refers to assignments tasks, and tests that provide information, and "evaluation" refers to judgments based on that information. .

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:

Harrington, Thomas F. (1995). Assessment of Abilities. ERIC Digest. Accessed 9/11/05: http://www.ericdigests.org/1996-3/abilities.htm.

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:

  • Students help develop assessment criteria
  • Students learn to self-assess
  • Students learn to assess fellow students
  • Multiple methods of assessment
  • Assessment is "authentic"

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:
  • to serve my current needs?
  • so that it will stay with me, for use in the future?
  • to transfer my new knowledge and skills to new (perhaps novel) situations where it is applicable
  • so that I can build on my new knowledge and skills in the future?
  • so I have some insight into what I don't know, why I might want to learn some of the things that I don't know but might want to know, and pathways to doing the learning?

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:

  1. Is learning to self-assess one of the important goals within your discipline? (In your opinion, should this goal be given increased or decreased emphasis?
  2. Specifically, to what extent do you help your students learn to assess their work and learning, and assess the work and learning of their peers?

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.

Level

Brief Description

1: Emergent

Student displays few, if any, of the rudimentary knowledge and skills that are expected.

2: Limited

Student displays rudimentary knowledge and skills, but often requires substantial individual help and guidance.

3: Developing

Student displays a minimally adequate level of the expected knowledge and skills.

4: Capable

Student displays a functional, adequate level of the expected knowledge and skills.

5: Strong

Student displays a high level of the expected knowledge and skills.

6: Exceptional

Student displays an outstanding and creative/innovative level of the expected knowledge and skills.

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.

  1. Level 1—Emergent Technology User
    • Selected technology tools to assist in creating the desired product that were inappropriate for the task or student is not able to operate tool.
    • Technology was used but not to benefit the creation of a quality product.
    • Technology tools was tried by the student, but the required product could not be produced.
    • Was unable to resolve most technological obstacles relating to the project.
    • Ethical and professional behavior was not shown or was inappropriately shown through lack of citations, copyright adherence, and ethics.
  2. Level 2—Limited Technology User
    • Selected lesser effective tools from what is available to create the desired product.
    • Technology was used to address the tasks but few of the capabilities of the technologies were used to create the product.
    • Technology tools are used and set up appropriately, but only with major outside assistance.
    • Was able to solve only elementary technological obstacles.
    • Ethical and professional behavior was occasionally shown through appropriate citations, copyright adherence, and ethics.
  3. Level 3—Developing Technology User
    • Selected appropriate tools from what was available to create the desired product, but only with outside assistance.
    • Technologies were used but assistance was needed for the basic capabilities of the technology to create product.
    • Technology tools were set up and used appropriately but required some outside assistance.
    • Was able to solve most basic obstacles associated with the project.
    • Ethical and professional behavior was generally shown through appropriate citations, copyright adherence, and ethics.
  4. Level 4—Capable Technology User
    • Selected adequate tools from what was available and appropriate for creating the desired product.
    • Technology was used in an appropriate way and applied the basic capabilities of the technology to create the product.
    • Technology tools were set up correctly and used appropriately with minor assistance.
    • Was able to solve some of the technology related problems associated with the project.
    • Ethical and professional behavior was shown through appropriate citations, copyright adherence, and ethics.
  5. Level 5—Strong Technology User
    • Selected quality tools from what was available that was appropriate to create quality a product.
    • Technology was used in appropriate ways and applied many of the features to create a quality product.
    • Technology tools were set up correctly and used appropriately without assistance following established guidelines.
    • Solved most technology related problems associated with the project.
    • Ethical and professional behavior was shown through appropriate citations in proper form, copyright adherence, and ethics.
  6. Level 6—Exceptional Technology User
    • Selected the most appropriate tools from what was available, to create high quality products.
    • Technology was used in an innovative way to create higher quality product than assignment anticipated.
    • Technology tools were not only set up correctly and used appropriately but often suggestions are provided for improvement in the procedures.
    • Solved all technology related problems associated with the project.
    • Ethical and professional behavior was shown through appropriate citations in proper form, copyright adherence, and ethics.

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.

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