Assessment for Learning by: Amy Trauth-Nare and Gayle Buck

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Due to the student-centered nature of problem-based learning (PBL) and project-based science (PBS), it is easy for teachers not to provide students with adequate feedback or enough support to promote critical thinking. However, research has shown that PBL and PBS are most effective when appropriate learning goals are defined, embedded supports and feedback are part of instruction, and there are multiple opportunities for self-assessment and revision (Barron et al. 1998). Instructional supports for student learning come in many forms. In this article, the authors describe how formative assessment can be used to support PBL and PBS to maximize student achievement.

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Reviews (7)
  • on Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:41 PM

Overall, this was an excellent article and I would highly recommend it to any science teacher. This article explains how problem-based learning (PBL) and project-based science (PBS) can enrich the educational experience for students. I especially like how well this article explains the methods used to make PBL and PBS effective in the classroom. The authors, Amy Trauth-Nare and Gayle Buck go on to talk about the importance of formative assessment being 'for' learning, not 'of' learning. The idea is to probe students and figure out what their background knowledge is, what misconceptions they might have, and what questions they still have about a topic. I can see this being a really effective way to plan a lesson or unit, although it might take more work for the teacher, it would be worth it. By giving students the formative assessment and planning a unit around their answers could also save a lot of time if you've found out that your students know a lot more than you originally assumed. I also really like that the authors included examples of charts, diagrams, and rubrics for the reader to get a better idea of how these methods can be implemented. Lastly, I really liked how the authors stressed the importance of feedback for the students. I agree that feedback should be given often and throughout the unit or lesson, not just at the end.

Annastacia Maynard
Annastacia Maynard

  • on Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:11 AM

I found this article extremely helpful in giving new teachers ideas for incorporating project-based learning or problem-based science in the classroom. Today, it is especially important that we keep the content relevant to our students and probe for their interests. This article gives many suggestions and strategies for implementing PBL and using formative assessments along the way. Summative assessments can often be daunting and lower student morale, as they feel like they have to prepare and may do bad on a unit test. Formative assessments, especially in the PBL scenarios, allow us to truly understand what our students know about the topic, instead of if they just memorized a fact for the test. I enjoyed the article as it made PBL/PBS seem less scary to implement in the classroom. The article emphasizes giving student feedback, rather than outright telling a student they’re “wrong.” I believe this is a great article to help teachers build science concepts in students and to foster a creative, collaborative learning environment.

Adrienne Nelson
Adrienne Nelson

  • on Tue Jun 27, 2017 12:31 AM

This article I saw later was written for High School, but it still very clearly demonstrates the importance for Project Based Learning!


  • on Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:18 PM

This article gives excellent advice and provides practical examples of ways to assess student understanding. The author includes excellent visual aids including examples of probes and sample rubrics. In addition, information about addressing misconceptions and how to administer formative assessments. This is a fantastic primer for anyone who is looking for formative assessment ideas.

Maureen Stover  (Fayetteville, NC)
Maureen Stover (Fayetteville, NC)

  • on Fri Oct 20, 2017 11:49 AM

I like how the article talks about the importance of PBL as well as using formative assessments to guide student learning. There is an emphasis on making sure the teacher is actually using those assessments for learning which is important if you are going to make the material relevant and meaningful to your students. I also enjoy how the article walks you through an entire lesson from start to finish, This helps the reader better visualize how to use their assessments throughout the entirety of the class. One thing I wish would be added was examples from each of the major science fields. This would make the article relevant to more teachers. Overall, it is a good article that helps encourage teachers to use PBL and assessments for learning to help their students.

RIley C
RIley C

  • on Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:16 AM

I am currently a pre-service teacher going into my pre-internship. With that, it is always helpful to learn new and positive ways of assessing students that will help them reach their goals and guide their own learning.


  • on Wed Dec 29, 2010 8:14 PM

The author explains how to successfully implement project-based learning in the classroom, using metacognitive strategies such as KWL, think, pair share.writing prompts, journal entries and minute papers.The project examples appear to be more appropriate for middle and elementary students, rather than high schoolers.

Therese H  (Salisbury, MD)
Therese H (Salisbury, MD)

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