One barrier that faculty who are implementing course-based research experiences often confront is how to grade students in the course, as these courses often do not lend themselves to typical lab practicals. Below is a list of approaches for evaluating student performance (i.e., giving a grade). These approaches also can be used to assess the effectiveness of the research experience.
- End of Project or End of Semester Research Report
- Research Poster development and public presentation
- Research Seminar presentation, in-class and public presentation
- Grant proposal, using data collected as preliminary results
For student evaluation and especially for course assessment, developing rubrics for these types of assignments is often helpful. Kishbaugh and colleagues developed a rubric bank (www.rsc.org/suppdata/rp/c2/c2rp00023g/c2rp00023g_5.pdf) that helps faculty design assessments of both lower order and higher order skills using a variety of assignments.
Lastly, though science content is often a lesser priority for research-based courses, the student’s understanding of the research question background is critical for the student’s sense of mastery and independence in the design and analysis of experiments. Simple formative assessments (asking questions answered by volunteer students) can be misleading as to the level of understanding of the entire class. Formative and summative assessments that document each student’s knowledge is therefore important. Quizzes and/or mid-term exams are thus useful tools to help the students prepare for larger end of project reports or presentations.
Kishbaugh TLS, Cessna S, Horst SJ, Leaman L, Flanagan T, Graber Neufeld D, and Siderhurst S (2012). Measuring beyond content: a rubric bank for assessing skills in authentic research assignments in the sciences. Chemistry Education Research and Practice 13, 268-276