I've made the switch. This year I've been using a cumulative project in lieu of a traditional written test, and at this point I believe that the projects are a better indicator of student knowledge than the old examinations.
Students have just started working on their final projects for the 3rd Trimester. So far, I'm impressed. Day 1 is usually always a bit of a waste. Students aren't sure what they want to do or how to start so they end up doing lots of email checking, Google Image labeling, Impossible Quiz taking, and other things that are probably violating their AUP's. Day 2 is when the action happens (for most). They figure out what format they're going to use for their exam, and start to frame how they're going to include the required information into that format. About 25% of the projects I've seen from students so far look like they're going to be great. I don't mean simply deserving of an "A." I mean they look like they'll be shiny monuments to mountains of knowledge!
A couple things I've learned to do as I've done more of these cumulative projects:
- Push for more than just bulleted points of information. It's dull to read, it's dull to write, it's just dull.
- Demand diagrams, graphs, graphic organizers, and media-rich projects. These are more interesting than text, and they generally demonstrate a student's understanding of a topic more clearly.
- Require projects to show the student's understanding of how the material covered in the class is interconnected. We covered volcanoes & plate tectonics this trimester. I want them to show me how they relate.
If you'd like to see the project description and rubric for the 3rd Trimester final exam, visit my school homepage. There are links to the rubric and a brief explanation of what is expected. Let me know what you think. What would you add? How might it be structured differently?