Hangout Recap: Assessment in Project Based Learning

For this week’s hangout, BIE National Faculty members Ian Stevenson and Erika Jordan were joined by educator Janet Bontz to discuss effective assessment practices in Project Based Learning.



We focused on the following Driving Question:

How can we effectively assess student learning in PBL?

Here were some of the highlights:

Question 1: What are some common assessment issues in PBL? (2:30) 

Our guests talked about:

  • It takes time and collaboration to plan assessments
  • Balancing individual and group assessment
  • Assessment of 21st century skills

Question 2: How can teachers assess an individual’s contribution to a team-created product? (4:45)

Our guests talked about:

  • Individual student goals and timelines with self-reflection using journals
  • Task lists, and team and individual check-ins with students
  • Using contracts or charters

Question 3: How can teachers assess content knowledge in a project? (9:30)

Our guests talked about:

  • Using traditional assessments like quizzes, check-ins, reports
  • Mini-presentations in the middle of a project that follow specific guidelines and provide a snapshot of learning
  • Making sure that content is in the rubric (Rubrics)
  • Socratic seminars and fishbowl variations to assess Common Core ELA skills

Question 4: How should teachers use formative assessment in a project? (15:15)

Our guests talked about:

  • Giving students as much feedback as possible throughout a project
  • Diversity in strategies
  • Students being actively involved

Question 5: How should teachers use self- and peer- assessment in a project? (19:15)

Our guests talked about:

  • Get students from another location to provide students with feedback
  • Break down peer-assessment into specific manageable chunks
  • Build relationships with students and trust them to be honest

Question 5: How should teachers handle grading of project work? (24:00)

Our guests talked about:

  • Using online tools like Project Foundry and Edmodo
  • District and school expectations, and the freedom of a teacher to customize grading system
  • Lay out the rubric so that students and parents understand where the grade comes from

Key Takeaways:

  • Diversify assessments throughout the project
  • Model expectations
  • It’s okay to use traditional tools
  • Use self- and peer- assessment to increase student voice

At the end of our Hangout, Erika reminded us of our take on Project Based Learning in, “Main Course Not Dessert.” Assessment is part of the main course and not something that happens after. As educators we should use both formative and summative assessments throughout the project and not just at the very end.