Susan Riley | September 2017

Using a Project Log as a Formative Assessment

When it comes to formative assessment, we can all get stuck in a rut.  How many times have you used the same rubric, checklist or portfolio?  These are tried and true, but sometimes, they’re just not the best fit for a project.  When working with maker-centered lessons and units, it’s important to be able to assess students on the process as much as on the product.  That’s why using a project log is such a great option!  I found this example from the book Assessing 21st Century Skills, which is a must-have for anyone looking for assessments for arts integration, STEAM or PBL.

What is a Project Log?

A project log assessment serves as a way for students to reflect on their learning and notate where they are in the progress of a larger project.  Many times, students work in pairs or groups when it comes to a project.  And often, students feel as though their work isn’t being fairly reviewed because the workload isn’t evenly split in the group.  Or, the group is working just fine together, but the progress is taking longer (or shorter) than expected.  The project log is a tool that students can use to monitor their progress and plan for their next steps.

Project Log Formative Assessment

How to Use a Project Log:

1. After assigning a project, give each student a log.  It’s their responsibility to fill out the project log and turn it in before the end of class.

2. Provide 5-8 minutes at the end of class for students to complete their log.  They should make a brief comment (no more than a sentence or two) in each category.  This should serve as a summary of progress made since the last time they worked on the project, goals for the project, and specific next steps for the next class.  This serves as a way to both reflect on their learning and set themselves up for maximum time efficiency during the next class.

3. Collect their logs and review their progress and next steps.  Be on the lookout for discrepancies among group members or for a timeline/goals that seem unreasonable.

4. Hand back the logs from the previous class and provide a fresh log the next time students work on their project.  Provide any redirection or helpful insights as you hand back their previous logs and remind students to look at the next steps they wrote down to guide their work for the current day.

When to use this kind of assessment

Project logs are great for older elementary, middle and high school students.  Your expectations for completion will be based upon the age/grade of the students.  You’ll also want to save these logs for longer-term or larger projects that students will be working on for several days.  If you’re doing a one or two day project, this log might not be the best fit.  But if your students are engaged in a project that will take place over a week or more, this offers a great way for you to monitor their learning process and for students to keep on track.

We have found these project logs to be something lots of teachers find valuable in our Assessment for Makers online class.  It’s one example of many formative assessment options that can be used in arts integration and STEAM lessons that you may not have thought of before.  Definitely take this out for a spin in your next project and let us know how it goes!

About the Author

Susan Riley is the founder and CEO of The Institute for Arts Integration and STEAM. She focuses on teacher professional development in arts integration, STEAM, 21st century learning skills, and technology. She is also a published author and frequent presenter at national conferences on Arts Integration and STEAM education. Susan holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the prestigious Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and a Master of Science in Education Administration from McDaniel College in Westminster, MD. She lives in Westminster, MD with her husband and daughter. Email Susan