As the year ends, I will republish the Drive-thru's five most viewed posts of 2012. This was #1.
As I indicated in Learning from Failure, despite the fact that their solutions came up short I was assured that my students actually achieved significant objectives during their Challenge Based Learning projects. I used a number of means to measure the achievement of these objectives.
Though these varied devices, I was able to arrive at individual "grades" despite the fact that they had worked entirely within groups. It is worth noting even though there were very few "A's", I received no complaints about grades. The final grade was my "gestalt" evaluation based on several modes of assessment:
* Early in the process, I surprised students by sending them off with their cell phones\to record impromptu audio reflections. They were asked to describe the research they had done for guiding questions, the contributions they had or had not made to the group thus far, what others would say about their contributions, and who in the group had distinguished herself through her contributions. I strongly recommend such a mid-process exercise because it implicitly calls students to task without a scolding or pep talk.
* I put a high premium on group presentations as assessments. Groups are urged not to strain to convince us of how much they accomplished. Instead, they are instructed to describe their journeys toward their solutions, remarking on the high points and pitfalls along the way. They are told to address specific topics, such as "What would you have done differently? What would you have done with more resources or time?
*During the presentations, their peers completed a rubric, scoring them on the criteria that had been established for the presentations. I, too, completed a rubric and jotted down comments. When I was absent one day, my sub completed these forms and later I did too while watching them on video.
* The group filled out a rubric together on different aspects of their CBL. This measured their solutions, presentation, methods of testing their solutions, etc.
* They concluded with an 8-10 minute video with the following instructions:
Please put your 8-10 minute culminating video reflection in our shared dropbox file by class time on May 1 (no extensions). If you have trouble with dropbox you can use a thumb drive in a sealed envelope with your name clearly indicated.
Your individual reflection focuses on your unique contribution and reflection. You may go beyond the time limit but ten minutes of prepared thoughts should do the trick. Here were the original goals of the project. To what degree were these achieved with you? If they weren’t achieved, please clearly note whether they were the fault of the group dynamic, you personally, or the project itself.
*Students will acquire greater political efficacy.
*Students will solve a difficult challenge.
*Students will learn to develop instruments of assessment.
*Students will show initiative.
*Students will become policy entrepreneurs.
*Students will acquire greater ability to collaborate.
You should also freely reflect on your own unique experiences and contributions.
There are many aspects of this particular project that I would change the next time around, but I was very satisfied with the assessments.