Assessment in Global Climate Change PBLs
Good assessment requires that learners demonstrate what they have learned and what they can do. The problem of evaluating student learning is complex. Students are expected to master skills and content, and they are expected to show competence in working collaboratively and creatively. These competencies drastically change the ways teachers must teach. The result has been a reliance on "active learning" situations–group work, simulations, hands-on activities, and open-ended curricula. But active learning brings with it the challenge of finding meaningful methods of assessment.
Tools for assessing concepts, skills, behaviors, and final products of the Global Climate Change problem-based learning (PBL) modules include personal student responses in the form of short answers, essays, oral presentations, or a portfolio of work produced from completing one or more of the modules. (See also Developing Rubrics for PBL Projects.)
The first step is for you to share the expected concepts, skills, behaviors, and options for final products with your students. Sharing these expectations will show students how they may participate fully in the experiences offered by the paths of inquiry in a module.
Students should also be made aware of the criteria and rubrics by which their work will be assessed. Not only will this allow them to work more productively and give them a clearer idea of what they are supposed to be learning, but it will also reduce any anxiety they may have about how they will be assessed.
Once expected concepts, skills, behaviors, and final products have been identified and the criteria and rubrics for the assessment of final products have been demonstrated, students may begin using the Global Climate Change PBL modules, and teachers may begin the ongoing process of assessment.
It may seem risky using unconventional methods of measuring achievement when compared to methods with which students, administrators, and parents have been comfortable for decades. Yet being a risk taker may be necessary for the teacher who is dedicated to active learning pedagogy.
Finally, using alternative assessment tools may require that the teacher tolerate some ambiguity at first. Alternative assessment tools may seem frustrating and unsatisfactory the first time they are employed. However, as with other skills teachers learn in the classroom, revision, practice, and persistence may lead to excellence.