Assessing the Research Project


Case Study

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Darren decides to check the "grade book" section of blackboard to see how he's doing and check on the weighting of the research assignment. He notices that the grading criteria for the research assignment is included.

  • 10% APA Formatting
  • 15% Spelling and Grammar
  • 50% Content - Well written presentation of evidence with synthesis of findings
  • 25% Proper APA Citations - in-text and references page

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How could the professor incorporate research processes into the criteria?

How could the professor improve these criteria in general?


In this unit you will learn about both formative and summative assessment and create an assessment plan for your research project.


  • Participants will create a research project assessment plan that incorporates both formative and summative assessment.
  • Participants will create a project rubric that facilitates assessment of the research process and product.

To complete this unit you will

  • Read a web page and an article
  • Watch a video
  • Apply what you learned to your own practice
  • Create an assessment plan

Why is it important?

All too often research assignments are submitted in final form at the end of the semester for a grade that rarely takes into consideration research skills or processes beyond proper citations. For students to develop skills and master complex processes they need both feedback and practice. Incorporating formative and summative assessments that directly address research elements of the project will facilitate deeper understanding and learning.


Smooth-star.jpg Before you begin this section look at the Write questions and use those to guide your reading and viewing.  

Read Formative and Summative Assessment (when you assess) and Watch the embedded video on formative and summative assessment.

A great tool to facilitate both student self-assessment and peer assessment is the rubric. Rubrics define criteria for different levels of quality and support the development of self regulated learning. While you can utilize rubrics for grading that is not their most powerful application.

Read Understanding Rubrics

One of the most important elements of formative assessment is constructive feedback. Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick (2006) offer 7 principles of good feedback practice (quoted directly):

1 – helps clarify what good performance is (goals, criteria, expected standards)

2 – facilitates the development of self-assessment (reflection) in learning

3 – delivers high quality information to students about their learning

4 – encourages teacher and peer dialogue around learning

5 – encourages positive motivational beliefs and self-esteem

6 – provides opportunities to close the gap between current and desired performance

7 – provides information to teachers that can be used to help shape the teaching


  • What is summative assessment and what are the benefits of this type of assessment?
  • What is formative assessment and what are the benefits of this type of assessment
  • What types of assessment would be best at various stages of your research project?
  • What are the benefits of providing a rubric for the final research project? Are there any drawbacks?


Revisit your research project plan and create a parallel assessment plan or integrate an assessment plan.

  • Include both summative and formative (both formal and informal) assessments
  • If possible, also incorporate peer and self evaluation
  • Create a rubric for the final project (feel free to create more rubrics if desired)

Add your plan, including rubric(s) to the discussion board for this unit. Review the work of your colleagues for ideas and offer constructive feedback on at least one other plan.

Smooth-star.jpg Click on the discussion tab at the top of this page and once there click on edit - paste your work (you will lose formatting). 
Then, click the Page tab to come back to this unit page.


To wrap things up write a note to other mini course participants and share something helpful you learned that they won't find in the course materials. Include your email address at the end of the note if you are willing to be contacted by other participants. Post your note to the discussion board and while you're there take a look at what your colleagues have shared.


Nicol, D.J., & Macfarlane-Dick, D. (2006). Formative assessment and self-regulated learning: A model and seven principles of good feedback practice. Studies in Higher Education31 (2), 199-218). doi 10.1080/03075070600572090

Congratulations on successfully completing this mini course!

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Don't forget that there is a Diigo group for sharing helpful resources - please email me at if you would like to join.

You can also contact me with any questions or feedback about this course.

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