Feedback and assessment in collaborative projects with students

30 October 2019

Last week, Matt Whited (chemistry), Susannah Ottaway (history), and Ellen Iverson and Kristin O’Connell (both of SERC) presented at an engaging LTC session that explored strategies for communicating expectations, assessing student learning, and helping students articulate what skills they are developing in student-faculty collaborative projects.

Susannah shared her evolving perspective on the key elements for successful research partnerships with students. She noted that having a framework for projects that encourages a faculty member to think through key aspects of the project before starting is helpful. Because of her work with CCCE and the usefulness of community partner agreements when working with community organizations, Susannah suggested that faculty who want to spell out expectations more clearly, and think through aspects of a research partnership, might consider using the community partner agreement documents as the basis for developing a research partner agreement between students and faculty.

Matt shared his experience teaching a 300-level course-based research experience in the chemistry department. In particular, he noted the challenge of articulating learning goals and assessing student learning when the skills needed and progress made for each research project might be different. Rather than focusing on particular skills, Matt focused on fostering particular habits of mind. Assessment then involved metacognitive activities that asked students to reflect on both their experimental goals and progress and the development of other skills like teamwork and resilience. Matt noted that being explicit both about the course goals and how they would be assessed was important; this was uncomfortable for some students who were used to chemistry courses that involved problem sets and exams to assess learning.

To see more details of Susannah and Matt’s presentation, check out the slides from the event.