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