Does a project-based assessment really measures students’ understanding?
In Indonesia, math subject consists of many topics that sometimes do not relate each other directly. I hardly think what kind of problem that can cover calculus, geometry, and algebra in one plate. As a mathematics teacher candidate, it is also hard for me to imagine how to assess students about any math formula using a poster presentation or a set of graphs. We can not really know do they understand how to use the formula in solving any problem if we do not see their calculation on it. How can we know that they apply what we have taught into their project? This question really bothers me.
Then I started to go googling.
I found an article on it that mentioned about oral report. Oral report is the final part of project based learning (PBL) process where the assessment mainly happens. I just suddenly hit by a serious reflection. As a kind of oral person I realized that you would not be able to speak something worthwhile if you have not think about it. You may not present something if you have not learnt deeply about it before. You won’t be able to teach someone else about something if you are not understood about it yet.
To reach the step of oral reporting, a student has to weather many other steps. In a usual PBL, students are assigned to work in groups. This make them have to be able to communicate well with their partners in a group. Without a good communication skill it can cause a serious conflict within the group. Students also need to manage their time because PBL relatively needs more time to be done than any other kind of learning. In the article also mentioned that PBL also provides students with the opportunity to tackle real world situations that by their nature have no easy solution, or have no solution at the present time. This will make them think creatively and critically. I do believe that all of these processes can only be achieved if the students are really mastering the material needed. That is why PBL sometimes requires even more than what a ‘normal’ assessment requires.
Now I can see that PBL really measures students’ understanding if it’s done with an appropriate way. Yes it needs more effort to be done but as long as it can give the students more experience in their learning I think I will be happy to do it in my future.
Firzie B. Ravasia