Issue 87 | February 18, 2016 | Project Grading

PROJECT GRADING IDEA

Have you noticed that some of the finest projects a student can generate, like essays, artwork, notebooks and musical compositions, can be the hardest to assess for a grade?
Truly creative educational programs will present problems like this.  The grading issue is always looming.
            I teach an ancient history class in which some time-consuming projects have been produced by the students.  Understanding the time and effort that each student has put into their creation is always a consideration.  But when it comes to grading the final product,  the question always stands: did the student achieve the goal(s) set at the beginning of  the assignment?
Recently, they finished a Lapbook on 4 civilizations: Greece, Phoenicia, Rome and Northwest Africa.  I gave them a set of directions and also a rubric stating the expectation for the project.  Here is how the rubric was presented:

This project will be graded on:
1-10 points       Followed directions
1-10 points       Completed on time
1-10 points       Neat work
1-10 points       Elements of Culture information done correctly and completely
1-10 points       Timeline done correctly and completely
1-10 points       Borders provided for each entry
1-10 points       Map locations highlighted correctly
1-10 points       Information is accurate and well-written
1-10 points       Front cover shows creativity
1-10 points       Name on lapbook
      When students know ahead of time what the grading system is, it will serve as a guide as they work.   On the day that the project was due, I was able to take my grading guide and make it into a rubric like this:
____/10 points       Followed directions
____/10 points       Completed on time
____/10 points       Neat work
____/10 points       Elements of Culture information done correctly and completely
____/10 points       Timeline done correctly and completely
____/10 points       Borders provided for each entry
____/10 points       Map locations highlighted correctly
____/10 points       Information is accurate and well-written
____/10 points       Front cover shows creativity
____/10 points       Name on lapbook

_______Total points

The projects were simple to grade and no one objected to the points they earned because they knew the values and goals ahead of time.
Students appreciate clear guidelines, and they also benefit tremendously from quick feedback.  Whether the assignment is math, science or a history lapbook, if the assessment of the work is returned to the student quickly, they can make corrections and improve when it matters most.  And for many students, feedback can be motivating!

"I think it's very important to have a feedback loop, where you're constantly thinking about what you've done and how you could be doing it better. I think that's the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself."
~Elon Musk

"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve."
~Bill Gates