For the past couple of years I have done something different with assessment in my classroom. Instead of giving students a rubric before I get started on a project, I ask them what they think they should be graded and we create the rubric together. I was nervous the first couple of times I did this, and there was even resistance from students (I had one tell me in a exit interview that they like it better if I just tell them so they didn't have to think about it), but I really cannot see myself going back.
One reason is that this allows for both formative and summative assessment to take place. The formative component occurs when students are describing the qualities they think they should be graded on in their work. It allows for me to see if the main concepts from the lesson were learned by students. If we are studying abstract art and students are about to make an abstraction of something, but then tell me they think they should be graded on their ability to draw in a realistic manner it lets me know that I did not get across the meaning of abstraction and need to reteach the concept. The summative assessment comes from the project itself and whether or not they were able to follow to the rubric that we created as a class.
Another reason I will continue to use this method in my class is because it gives students the opportunity to have a say in how they are being graded. Anytime students are given an opportunity to have a hand in their own learning is a good thing. It is always interesting to see what students say they should be graded on when we do this, and although you might think each class would come up with completely different things, they don't.
Instead, students from different classes use similar language. Two criteria (also known as focus correction areas adapted from Collins Writing) seem to be consistent - RBE (reasonable best effort) and Craftsmanship. The other criteria are more specific to the project at hand. For example, if we are doing color wheel mandalas, students usually say that the other criteria should be creativity, the symmetry of the design, and the use of color. I try to keep the criteria to four or five things that can be specifically measured when we create the rubrics as a class. When we write down their criteria, we then go into what each should look like in their work. This helps students focus on the main ideas of what they need to execute and it also helps me focus on what to assess. It takes the guessing and ambiguity out of grading for both of us and makes it a little more pleasant.
Do you have a trick to assessment that seems to be working for you? Please share your thoughts below and let me know what you think of this idea and if you have done something similar in your own classroom.