Last night we had a lecture on the importance of assigning projects as an assessment tool in a high school class. The following is part of our discussion:
- Projects give kids opportunities to perform other than tests which can be especially important for kids in demanding courses (such as Physics) since they may not perform well on their tests.
- Projects provided students a chance to learn at home or at school and in a different format than the normal lectures/activities/homework assignments.
- Projects are an easy way to incorporate literacy and creativity into learning and assessment.
- Projects can be flexible in nature, including individual or group work.
- Projects can be an optional assignment to help boost the test average of a student’s grade.
- Regularly assigning projects give kids a chance to do projects even if it’s not a project-based curriculum.
Then we talked about how plagiarism plays a role in projects and presentations:
- Having students present their projects makes it more difficult to plagiarize because they are forced to speak about what they’ve learned and not just copy and paste.
- Be clear and upfront about what plagiarism is and what it is not. Most high school students (especially 9th and 10th graders) are confused as to what it is and why it is important.
- My professor’s definition of plagiarism: “More than three words in a row that are not your own. Plagiarism is not acceptable.”
- My cooperating teacher’s schpeel to students writing research papers in science: “You can’t write a research paper without quoting other scientists. There’s no way you have the research experience to be an expert in the field you’re reporting on. You have to quote other people in your resources; just be sure to give them credit.”
Last thoughts on assigning projects:
- Rubrics!! It’s important to create a clear, usable rubric and teach kids how to read it. If applicable, add group work section to rubric.
- What is the end result? Do you want students to hand in an artifact or a presentation?
- When students have to present their work, students tend to take more pride in developing a better artifact.
- Always good to give kids tons of assessment opportunities.