Rethinking Assessment: Using Project-Based Learning to Assess Student Learning
Keywords:Project-based learning, assessment, engagement, motivation
In which of these classrooms does the most authentic learning take place? Which one provides a more motivating experience? Which classroom provides a well-rounded picture of student understanding of the content? The description of Ms. Magby's classroom is one where project-based learning (PBL) is being implemented--students are engaged, motivated, and learning! As educators, who like Ms. Magby, have seen many academic and motivational benefits to students engaged in PBL, the authors of this paper want to encourage educators to incorporate this approach to teaching and learning in their own classrooms. The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of PBL, describe its benefits for students and help educators think about ways to implement PBL while using PBL as a tool for assessing student understanding. In the following pages we first describe PBL, synthesizing definitions from the literature. We then discuss the ways PBL benefits students, discussing both cognitive and motivational benefits. Next, we address the teacher's role and provide examples of how educators can implement PBL in their classrooms. Finally, we share how teachers can assess PBL through the development of rubrics and the use of formative and post assessments.