Planning Assessment for PBL

I struggled with developing assessments for my PBL project this week.  I understand that it is important to develop the assessment and know the desired outcomes prior to beginning the instruction.  In Meier’s presentation, she details Wiggins and McTighe notes about backward design to identify desired outcomes and then plan the instruction to reach those goals.  I am a very chronological thinker, so I usually plan my unit with daily instruction first, then I get to planning my assessment, and then I finally go back and revise my plans as necessary to reach those outcomes.  I have been challenged to begin at the end.

I wanted to keep the Seven Principles for Developing Performance Assessments from J.S. McTighe in mind while developing my assessments to navigate through this PBL journey in an effort to include as many of these principles as possible.

  1. Establish Clear Performance Targets
  2. Strive for Authenticity in Products and Performances
  3. Publicize Criteria and Performance Standards
  4. Provide Models of Excellence
  5. Teach Strategies Explicitly
  6. Use On-Going Assessments for Feedback and Adjustment
  7. Document and Celebrate Success

The performance targets are clearly explained in the rubrics that are used for evaluation throughout the project.  The scenario of comparing cars for fuel economy and purchase price is authentic since many of these students have parents recently or currently purchasing a vehicle.  The students will begin this thought process in another 2-4 years to select a car when they begin driving.  The criteria will be listed in the instructions for each portion of the project so that students will be able to continually refer to it, if needed.  As for the models of excellence, I am lacking there right now.  I personally find that looking at examples of past products increases my understanding of the requirements, so I understand the importance.  However, I hope that I will be able to add exemplary models after going through the project with one or more groups, and I have something tangible to use as a demonstration piece.  At the current time, I am debating about whether or not my plan and assessments teach the strategies explicitly.  I know what I am intending with the project, so I think that the teaching moments are available, but I will need an impartial person to review the materials and help make sure that what I intended has been written and achieved.  There are multiple assessments occurring at different points throughout the project which allows for feedback to the students and time to adjust instruction.  It is always necessary to document progress for special education students in the course, so this will be a good opportunity to track all students.  I think that it will be enlightening to allow students to evaluate themselves about how much they contributed to the project and document their own growth.

Part of the final product is to have students create a brochure or presentation that will be shared with parents and community members at PTA meetings or the community center.  I believe that my students will take more responsibility in their research and have more pride in their product when they know that people other than their teacher will be looking at it and possibly depending on it to help make a decision.


Meier, E.B..  Understanding by design Wiggins and McTighe.  Retrieved from



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