Monday, November 18, 2013

Quizzes vs. Projects: Words of Wisdom from an Edublogger

I was searching through different blogs of edubloggers when I finally came upon Frank Noschese's site. I was intrigued by the following post:

In this post titled "Quizzes vs. Projects (Mass & Weight Edition)", he writes about how he has seen examples of students demonstrating their ability to explain conceptual topics such as the difference between weight and mass in a fair amount of detail, especially when they are presenting work they've completed as a project. One of the things he wonders though, is if these same students would make mistakes similar to the ones his students had made on his summative assessments. The possibility is that they could.

One of the main points of emphasis during my graduate studies has been thinking of ways to engage students in meaningful learning experiences, and one of the methods that we learned to accomplish this is project-based learning. Standardized tests, written exams, and pretty much any type of assessment similar to these have been under much criticism and disapproval from the public as well as students. Therefore, using projects as an alternative form of assessment is appealing. Using projects as a form of assessment could also promote equity in regards to assessments as there are students who may perform better on projects than on tests.

The most important thing to consider though, is tailoring the objectives of the project to meet the purpose of the assessment. As Mr. Noschese mentioned, do we want students to simply recite Wikipedia definitions from a Powerpoint, or something else? I suggested to him that using backwards design could help him to get students to meet the objectives throughout the construction of the project, perhaps through the use of the rubric. One part that he wrote really stood out to me. He said, "What I’m trying to say is that I feel that teacher-generated questions and experiences (quizzes, labs, whiteboard problems, etc.) are important because they challenge students to think and apply in ways they probably wouldn’t if we just left them to their own devices." I like how he gives a valid reason as to why test and written assessments still serve a purpose in the classroom.

I agree with Mr. Noschese when he says he understands that "projects let students be creative and allow them to demonstrate their understanding in ways that quizzes simply can’t" but as he suggests, "Perhaps the answer is just 'all things in moderation.' Projects are great and all, but I feel that there should be a balance of the methods that we assess our students. We really need to keep in mind what we want our students to be able to do. Then we can decide which type of assessment will best serve our purpose.

1 comment:

  1. Jonathan,
    Great insight here. There has been such a push for project-based learning that I think some educators are throwing the baby out with the bath water. No doubt, traditional assessments serve a purpose and although the project-based model has a lot of value, we have to be realistic about how much we can assess. Your suggestion that we blend these methods makes perfect sense.