Peer/Self Assessment

When students complete their projects in my computer lab, the most often form of assessment they receive is a summative assessment that I provide.  This is usually in the form of a rubric that lists components of the project and a description of the levels of quality from excellent to poor.  I feel that these rubrics are helpful to students because they provide a guide for what is expected of them as they work through their project, but what I have found is that many times we look over the rubric at the beginning of the project and many of the students cast them aside and fail to look at them again.  While my rubric is an important tool for summative assessment, I also feel that a peer and/or self assessment can also be equally effective.

A peer assessment can help students internalize the characteristics of quality work.  I believe that when a student knows that someone at their level will also be evaluating their work, they may pay more attention to detail and quality.   I also think they will find the feedback from their peers to be more relevant.  Peer evaluation also encourages more student involvement.  For example, my fourth grade students are working on a PowerPoint presentation on famous inventors.  Typically I would be the only one reviewing the students work and presentations, but by incorporating peer evaluation, the students watching the presentations will be more engaged and get more out of each presentation.  This will also develop the students’ judgment skills.  By becoming more adept at peer evaluation, students will in turn be able to critically evaluate their own projects before they are submitted.  Another way to use peer feedback is to incorporate it into student group work.  My seventh grade students are working on group projects where they are learning how to use a web communication tool, figuring out ways to incorporate that tool in their core subjects, and presenting their tool to the rest of the class.  Peer evaluation allows the students to reflect on their role and the contributions they made to the group.  It provides accountability for all group members so that students will not “free load” off their group members since their contribution will be graded by their peers.

Self assessment also encourages students to take greater responsibility for their learning. Through self assessment, students can learn from their mistakes, identify their strengths and weaknesses, and become more active in their learning.   My eighth grade students are developing their own websites.  By adding a self assessment to the project, it will encourage the students to become more involved and responsible for their final product.  It will encourage the students to reflect on how focused they were on the creation of their website.  Like peer evaluation, it will also help the students focus on their judgment skills and develop their ability to critique the quality of their work before it is submitted.  My seventh grade students can also perform a self assessment of their role as group member during the creation of their web communication tool presentations.  This will help them critically analyze their contribution to the project and their group.

Many of my students have had little exposure to peer and self assessment;  therefore, they lack the skills and judgment to effectively complete these forms of evaluation at this time.  As their teacher, it will be my role to fully prepare the students for these types of evaluation by introducing them to these concepts and my expectations when the project is in its early stages.  While this may be time consuming, it is a valuable process as the students develop their 21st century learning skills.

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Assessment & Project Based Learning

Student achievement is measured in a variety of ways in Project Based Learning.  Of course the end product is the most important, but we cannot solely focus on it.  We must acknowledge that meaningful learning takes place throughout the project.  In PBL students learn more than just content.  They learn how to work with others, solve problems, clearly present ideas, and learn from mistakes.  Assessment in PBL acknowledges not only what the student has learned, but also how they learned it so that they can use it again in the future.  

The first step in effective assessment is to establish clear performance targets.  In my project, My Dream Playground, students are presented with a driving question or problem to solve from the beginning.  I have also outlined the subject area content standards that will be addressed in the project and created summative assessment rubrics that list my expectations for the final project model and presentation.  Throughout the project, students collaborate with their group members as they complete pieces of the project and they reflect on their work as they complete their group project checklist and learning logs.  Weekly feedback will be provided to the individual students and groups to help them stay on track, and improve their work so that they can be successful with the final product.  

Each group’s final playground model and presentation will be there own.  They will be given criteria for what makes a good project, discuss the qualities of good work with their classmates and me, and be provided with examples of exemplary projects.  However, in the end, they will use their own ideas and work together to create their model and presentation and no two projects will be exactly the same.

In order to meet the math standards for this project, the students will be taught how to measure, and find area and perimeter in a hands on way. We will do this by using the math worksheets I created and going out to the playground location to answer the questions.  Formative assessments of these worksheets and weekly quizzes will help me figure out who is understanding the concepts and who needs more help as the project progresses.    

When this project is finished, we will all reflect on its successes.  I will fill out an evaluation for how I felt the project went.  My students will also complete a self evaluation and peer evaluation and also reflect on the project as a whole–what they liked, what they didn’t like, what they learned, etc.   

My students have not had a whole lot of experience with self and peer evaluation.  I will need to spend time teaching my students how to take ownership of their own learning and take pride in their work.  We will also need to discuss constructive criticism and how to offer suggestions to others as they work on their projects and presentations.  I created a rubric for the peer evaluation of the practice presentations, but I would rather use that rubric as a teaching point with the students and have them help me edit it to make it their own once we have completed lessons on self and peer evaluation.