Chapter 6: Assessment of Project-Based Learning in the First Year

In this chapter, you’ll learn guidelines on using models, practice, and feedback to improve student learning and deliverables.

using models

Before our students create posters, we have them view some from this collection of WPI Great Problems Seminar student project posters and discuss what they like about them and what they do not.

strategies for giving feedback

Providing your students with detailed and productive feedback on project drafts can be very time consuming, but it is needed and important. However, there are multiple ways to provide students with valuable feedback, and some that can help teachers and advisors manage their time.

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  • Rubrics with weights, points, and brief comment sections
  • 3-5 minute student pitches, summaries, or descriptions in front of the class, with faculty and peer feedback
  • Recorded verbal feedback from faculty using an iPhone or other recording device
  • Small group feedback: faculty or advisor meets with students (all who have submitted different work) in small groups. Faculty member or advisor gives feedback to each student on the assigned project, paper, presentation, etc. verbally in front of the group. The students view the practice of giving good feedback and hear information intended for other students that can be helpful in their case.
  • Model the peer review process: faculty or advisor gives feedback to one student or project group in front of the class using a set of criteria shared with the rest of the class. The rest of the class then follows the process with one another. Here is a sample set of criteria for a 2018 GPS called “The World’s Water.”
  • Pay it forward peer review: half the students/groups offer to present on their project work first in class. After a faculty/advisor model of the peer review process using a common set of criteria, the half of the class who did not present provides a peer review to the half of the class who did present. Then the groups who presented pay it forward by giving advice, again using a common set of criteria, to the half of the class who did not present yet. When the second half of the class present on a different day, the first half who have already presented now give a peer review. Find the pay it forward peer review guide for The World’s Water GPS here. The whole class then pays it forward by writing up a list of advice for students in the next year’s class. Here is a sample of our students’ advice for the water project.
peer review as a strategy for feedback

Teaching your students to provide one another with peer review feedback can help with faculty time management; it also provides your students with multiple benefits.

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  • Students who are taught are taught how to give productive, constructive feedback (and practice the skill) can utilize this skill in upper-level projects, internships, and in the workplace.
  • Reviewing the work of others can provide students with perspective on what others are doing that is effective (or not so effective), which can help them turn a more critical eye to their own work.
  • Students are able to get feedback from multiple peers, instead of one set of feedback from their professor, enabling them to get input from multiple perspectives to consider. For example, in a team of four students with a written project proposal draft, a total of four students from other teams will read the proposal and then give meet with the authors in pairs to give written and oral feedback. The team of four will then get together as a group and discuss the feedback that they got from four different peers. 
teaching students how to provide feedback

Before our first peer review activity, we talk with our students about how to give a good peer review. Ryan Smith Madan, the director of WPI’s Writing Center, created a presentation to guide our students on how to give a productive and constructive peer review of written work.

Example of peer evaluation of a Video presentation

View this example of a video assignment with rubric and peer evaluation.

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Working in teams, WPI students created a video that interviewed city-dwellers about the joys and challenges associated with city life while considering environmental, social, political, economic, and cultural issues. Each student was also required to perform a peer review evaluation. View the assignment parameters and associated rubric, as well as view an example of a student video below.