1. Demonstrates Objectives
It seems obvious that your project based learning assessment must require learners to demonstrate the performance described in the instructional objectives but it can be easy to become carried away with a creative project and lose sight of your goals. A great way of ensuring that the assessments demonstrate the objectives is to design an assessment where learners complete the actual task or project that they will be required to complete on the job. Yeah, it may seem boring to just have learners simulate what they have to do on the job but this is a great way to ensure that they have learned something that will truly improve their performance. If the learner comes back to work from the lesson with a task completed then you already have a return on investment to point to.
It is often more effective to scaffold project based lessons to include multiple assessments or projects. I recently designed a project based lesson that gradually built on the learners skills by including an assessment at the beginning, middle, and end of the project. The assessments at the beginning and middle of the project provided the opportunity for a formative assessment where the learners can be given feedback as the project progresses, while the assessment at the end provided the opportunity for a summative assessment where the learners can be given a culminating appraisal of their performance. Scaffolding the project so that it builds up to a final assessment that represents a blend of all the content covered in the project ensures that the learners have improved over time and achieved the instructional objectives.
3. Able to Assess
Some of the greatest assessments for project based learning can also be the most difficult to assess. It's easy to give a test where each question is worth a certain amount of points but when it comes to assessments where learners are completing a project it can be difficult to measure exactly how well the learner performed. A great way of overcoming this obstacle is to create a rubric to use as a scoring guide. A well written rubric not only helps the facilitator score the assessment but it also helps the learner understand what is expected of them and serves as a guide for their project. Rubrics are a great tool that I think may be underutilized in the corporate world. There is a lot of information available that will help you create rubrics so I am not going to dive into the details here. The links below will take you to a couple of sites that will help you get started creating rubrics and to an example of a rubric I created for a project based lesson.
- Creating Rubrics - This link takes you to teachervision.com which has a variety of resources for creating rubrics.
- My Example - This link will take you to an example rubric that I created for a project based lesson.
- MS Office Template - This link will take you to a template for a rubric on the MS Office site.
- Buck Institute for Education. (2003) Project Based Learning: A guide to standards focused project based learning. Novato, CA: Buck Institute for Education.