In a fully project based learning classroom, it is easy to assess students on what they know. We have to understand that the enduring skills, our habits of minds, are the skills the that transcend content. Content is the medium in which our learners get to use the habits of mind. According to Art Costa, there are 16 Habits of Mind and at this moment that list is growing as more habits of thinkers and innovator are named.
In our STEAM class, I use the 16 Habits of Minds as our learning outcomes and goals because it is important that students are aware of these skills and are able to use these skills when a problem arises. For instance, if a problem is that the light in the house that they are constructing is not working, then what skills and strategies can they use. Student can think flexibly and define more than one solution in addition to take responsible risks and try something new. Students can apply what they have learned about circuit into this new situation and solve the problem from there. They use the ideas of others through collaboration.
With the habits of minds, I am able to assess which habits students are strong in and which habits students need to work on. The class become a goal oriented class where students are practicing habits until they have become proficient at it. Proficiency is the goal and I define proficiency as consistent demonstration of the skills supplied by multiple evidence. Students needs to supply evidence to show that they learned these skills and that is where competency comes into play with my class. When they supplied evidence towards a particular habit they have met that goal.
By the end of the STEAM year, students are to show competency in all 16 Habits of Mind, by supplying evidence. I’m not at a place where student are able to defend they competency in the habits but I am at the place where I am able to assess students on the habit based upon the unpacking of the habits. Depending the context of the project, for instance Thinking Flexibly, which means coming up with multiple solutions to a problem might look different between two project but the essence of the skills stays consistent. If the student is able to recognize that they are Thinking Flexibly and are able to articulate that skills and provide example of how they were thinking flexibly then they have demonstrated competence through a portfolio or a blog and therefore met those goal. I am a not there yet but I am approaching that goal.
At this moment, I am assessing students based upon a rubric that shows the habits and how those habit are unpack through objective statement and then measurement is based upon whether 1.) they met the goal 2.) they didn’t meeting the goal and are approaching it 3.) there is no evidence of the goal.
The implications of this method is that you focus away from points, numbers, and grade and focus on whether or not students have met a goal and support students in meeting goal. It also means that I need to be developing assignment that match the objective. I need to develop meaningful work and in my class real world project is that meaningful work.