Because STEM engineering projects are by design so open-ended, they can be difficult to grade. Here are some things to keep in mind when you are assessing STEM engineering projects in your classroom:
1. You don’t need to grade everything!
It’s true. The learning still happens even if it’s not recorded. I know this doesn’t help you when your principal says you have to have x number of grades in the grade book by report cards. But in case you need to let yourself off the hook, remember that you don’t have to grade everything!
2. Along the same lines, you don’t have to grade everything in the traditional way.
STEM is not traditional paper and pencil learning, and it doesn’t have to be graded that way. You don’t have to have students fill out elaborate sheets with each STEM project. Don’t be afraid to think creatively. You could:
-Have students snap pictures to submit to you electronically.
-Have students record all STEM assignments in a journal, and then you grade the journal holistically.
-Have students sketch their STEM projects and record what they learned.
-Just let them create and monitor and talk with them as they work.
Yeah, but how do I grade it?
I would assign a check plus, check, or check minus. I did this a lot with many activities in my classroom. How does that translate to a grade in the grade book? A check plus is 100, a check is 85, and a check minus is 70, assuming they participated and tried. That way, no one who tries, fails, and you’re not stuck with a new stack of papers to bring home.
With STEM projects, I wanted students to take risks and not be afraid to try a new way, even if it might not work. Because of this, I never wanted to grade students for having a completed, successful project. Making mistakes is part of the learning process, and I don’t want students to expect a perfect outcome of themselves. No scientist would do that. I usually used rubrics for projects such as engineering challenges, and when I create my rubrics, I think not only of the products, but of the behaviors that I want students to exhibit.
For STEM challenges, things like teamwork, participation, creative thinking, and reflection are every bit as important parts of the learning as the outcome of the project. That led me to create this rubric, which I include in my STEM Megabundle sets. You can grab it here free.
4. Learning Scales a la Marzano
You could also use learning scales to help both you and your students assess their learning. Here is a simple Engineering Learning Scale I created. Download it free here! There are several versions including depending on how much spare ink you feel like using.
I hope these have helped you feel more comfortable about grading STEM projects. I love questions and comments! Do you have any tried-and-true ways of assessing STEM engineering projects? Do tell!
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Original article and pictures take http://www.morethanaworksheet.com/2015/07/23/how-to-grade-stem-projects/ site