Rubrics and Self-Assessment in Project-Based Learning


Project-based learning is a whole different type of learning activity. Students think outside of the box during PBL, so how do you assess them? A test at the end of the project doesn’t seem sufficient with all of the work they’ve put in researching and problem-solving for their project.

This is why I use rubrics & self-assessments during my project-based learning activities!

Using Rubrics

When I complete my project-based learning activities with a class, we are working to learn or practice specific standards. A rubric allows me to grade their understanding of a particular standard in a real-life situation. The entire process of teaching the standards through PBL allows me learn more about what the student understands and what they need extra help with. The rubric not only allows me to assess the whole child, but it gives me a fair grade for the grade book.

Related Resources

A great PBL rubric includes:

  • Clear goals and student-friendly wording
  • 4-6 subcategories specific to the format of your project
  • Subject-area goals

You can download my general project-based learning rubric for free here. I recommend adding subject area goals specific to the project you’re working on. Other than that, this rubric works great for all PBL!

A photograph of a rubric for a project-based learning activity

Using Self-assessment

Have you ever looked at a kid’s assignment and thought “What on earth did this kid do the whole time?” Self-assessment allows you to get insight into their thoughts and feelings about the assignment and their performance during the assignment. I’ve had students tell me on their self-assessment that they should have worked a lot harder on the project.

Self-reflection can be assigned in a few ways:

  1. Have students journal daily about their progress on the project.
  2. Give students the rubric and have them circle the rating they would give their work. Have them add a written explanation.
  3. Verbally ask students questions about the quality of their work and record the answer.
  4. Guide students to write a reflection paragraph at the end of the project. I have a great page in my free Easy & Fair Grading Ideas resource that shows students what a good reflection looks like.

A photograph of a self-assessment activity for project-based learning

Click here to download the self-assessment page.

A graphic for a self-assessment activity for project-based learning

Click here to download this resource for free!

I hope these resources help you, no matter where you are on your project-based learning journey! As always, feel free to e-mail me with questions or comments.

Learn how to implement project-based learning in your classroom, from start to finish!

A graphic that says "Project-Based Learning Strategies"

#5 – Rubrics and Self-Assessment


April Smith

Curriculum Writer and Online Professional Development Coach. 


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