Beyond Rubrics: Moving Towards Embedded Assessment in Maker Education
MIT will partner with Maker Ed, a national nonprofit, to develop and evaluate practices of embedded assessment in maker-centered learning. The 2-year project will support design-based research in middle school science and engineering classrooms.
This project is supported by the STEM+Computing (STEM+C) program, which advances applied research integrating computational thinking and computing activities within disciplinary science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teaching and learning in early childhood education through high school (PreK-12). Because of its fundamental focus on collaborative, iterative, process-based learning--key 21st century skills--maker education's learning outcomes cannot be adequately tracked by tests, the traditional means of assessment in classrooms. The project will develop embedded assessment techniques, co-designed with and implemented by teachers, to collect rigorous forms of evidence of student learning, without constraining or interrupting complex making processes. Embedded assessment refers to a form of assessment where assessment is directly incorporated into the learning environments and activities, so student learning can be monitored and supported in real time. Embedded assessment has been widely adopted in digital contexts to design tasks within a system that can elicit evidence of desired outcomes, and to automatically and rapidly capture rich data generated in the process of performance. Leveraging the same methodology in maker learning is promising, however hands-on learning environments do not have the same data affordances as digital environments. Through this necessary reframing and redesigning of assessment, we can begin to answer the question of how maker-centered learning can truly benefit the broader education system, both for students and for teachers. This knowledge will improve the quality of learning in school-based maker environments, and enable more schools to bring these valuable experiences to their students.
The project will develop and evaluate practices of embedded assessment in maker-centered learning which will lead to assessment practices better suited to the processes and desired outcomes of maker education. There are currently no well-documented assessment protocols or processes for maker education. The project will conduct design-based research that involves two lines of connected work. First, the project will iteratively develop embedded assessment toolkits with maker educators and teachers. Second, the project will establish a transformative process where participating teachers can successfully adopt embedded assessments within middle school STEM curricula.