Fair Assessment of Teams
“But he didn’t do any of the work!” Teachers using team-based projects hear this complaint regularly. Those of us in the business world may think it regularly as we work in a variety of team situations. And as we train teachers to use project-based learning in the High School of Business™ program, this is one of the most frequent concerns voiced. As Edutopia.org blogger Kathleen Piper writes, two types of students are most concerned about working in the teams required of project-based learning: “Students of the first type generally do not enjoy school at all, and are looking for the path of least resistance. The second type of student has already been very successful in traditional classrooms and is deterred by the challenges of this new model.” Piper goes on to offer three innovative ways in which teachers can more accurately assess each student’s work within a team. If teamwork is used in your classroom, it’s definitely worth a read.
Talking PBL in Your Classroom
Taking ownership of a project is a key benefit of project-based learning. Proponents say that ownership leads to engagement, which leads to a deeper level of learning. But there is another side of the coin: what if students don’t take ownership? Do they really want to be responsible for the project? In this exercise, you will ask your students and find out how they feel about their learning.
Hold a classroom discussion. Use these questions:
A) In all of your years of school, what academic activity do you think you learned the most from? Why? What caused you to learn more during that activity than in other classes?
B) Think about a time when a teacher, parent, or coach has given you responsibility for a project. Did you do better or worse work than if the teacher had given explicit instructions? Why or why not?
C) Take a few minutes to think about this question, then write down your response. If you were going to teach a class of 2nd graders how to count money, how would you do it?
After the responses are written, ask the students to share their answers. Then ask the class to summarize the main points from the discussion regarding learning. Be sure to draw out the concept of ownership. Is that important in learning? Why or why not?
In project-based learning classrooms, students learn 21st Century Skills in addition to subject-area content. Communicating and collaborating in teams is emphasized. To practice teamwork in your classroom, try some of the activities featured in this website: http://wilderdom.com/games/InitiativeGames.html