What should assessment look like in a lab?

  • Project based have students create a project to demonstrate mastery
  • Students should be able to track their own progress and be able to predict their grade on a regular basis.
  • It should be a combination of final projects and observations. I also take note of the students who are helping other students.
  • I have created a check list of basic skills that I will observe during the course of the year. Along with the checklist I use projects to see how they are progressing. If students are solving problems or figuring out things on their own then I will try and give that student a new challenge.

Observation & Dialog approach:

This is particularly effective if you're teaching a skills-based curriculum in the context of projects-based-learning. By walking around and using tools such as NetOp or iTalc, one can observe students working on projects throughout the class period. To add a higher level, regularly engage students in one-on-one interaction, in person or via a tool like Edmodo.
  • What are you doing?
  • Why did you choose to use / do / design x?
  • What audience did you have in mind when you made decision x?
  • What other tools could you use here, and why did you choose to use this one?

This approach has some benefits beyond engaging your students in critical analysis of they and their peers approach to the same problems and the reduction of take-home work for the teacher.
Benefits of Observation & Dialog...
One of the biggest benefits is freeing students up from due dates and the thought that something even needs to be finished / perfect / etc. It's amazing the level of challenge the average student will willingly embrace on a project of interest if they're not worried about a looming deadline.

Another key benefit is engagement. If there are no due / collected artifacts, the work never ends. Students don't race to develop mediocre projects so they can be "finished". They're never finished. There's always more awesome to create.

What are some tips and tricks for assessing students in a lab?

  • Copy of seating chart on which I can take notes
  • Using tools such as NetOp or iTalc, one can observe students working on projects throughout the class period.
  • I have used Class Dojo to mark when students are finished typing. It makes them race to get done!
  • Have students save their file to a write only volume on a server
  • Implement a standard naming convention
  • Frequent review of student progress with students.
  • Peer evaluations and self reflections

What are the guiding principles for assessing in the computer lab?

  • Rubrics for final projects
  • Peer evaluations and self reflections
  • Assessment should measure some progress in meeting a standard. But that leaves a lot of room, given standards like:
    • Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.