When thinking about assessing PBL, instructors need to remember that it is an ongoing process throughout the unit. Unlike traditional instruction that usually concludes with a paper and pencil test or “final project”, facilitators of PBL are using formative assessment to guide learners along the way.
The PBL Ecology unit that I am creating will have a number of learning objectives that will be assessed following the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Two objectives I will focus on are:
- Objective 1: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
MS-LS2-1. Analyze and interpret data to provide evidence for the effects of resource availability on organisms and populations of organisms in an ecosystem.
- Objective 2: Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS):
MS-LS2-4. Construct an argument supported by empirical evidence that changes to physical or biological components of an ecosystem affect populations.
- Prior to beginning their research, students will be given a Google Form assessing prior knowledge. This form will help to guide the students as they focus their topic and begin research.
- As students are conducting their research with their groups, a rubric will be used to monitor their progress.
- As students are conducting their research with their groups, they will record their progress in reflective journals using Google Slides. The instructor will use a one point rubric to evaluate the journal entries.
- Students will have a choice of creative a journal article or a public service announcement (PSA) as their final product/performance. This will be assessed using the attached rubric.
An important consideration in planning both formative and summative assessments, is the instructor’s role. The instructor serves as a facilitator of instruction rather than a director of instruction. Therefore, the students role shifts as well. Rather than being fed information and then preparing for a test in which they demonstrate their acquisition of the knowledge, in PBL the students take an active role in directing their learning. Assessment comes in the way of peer review when working in groups and self reflection in the form of journals or learning logs. It is desirable during PBL for learning to be a iterative process and hopefully learning will continue long after the “project” is over.