Friday, 19 February 2016

Six findings from students' evaluation of their science projects

This year's Grade 11 science projects have come to an end, and once again I asked the students to complete an anonymous evaluation questionnaire to assist me with improving the projects next time around. Here are six key points arising from this evaluation.

Happy students having finished their final project presentations!

1. Scientific understanding

In terms of improving their general understanding of science, the majority of students agreed that this was the case. However, a significant minority reported they had no opinion about this, which is something I hope to improve with next year's projects.

2. Enjoyment and teamwork

More students reported that they enjoyed the science projects this time around, which may in part be due to the fact that they chose their own groups. There was also a big improvement in the number of students reporting that their group worked well as a team this year, compared with last. Again, this may reflect the fact that the groups self-selected their members. 

3. Project advisor

Each project group has a science teacher who acts as their advisor throughout the year. Groups overwhelmingly reported that their advisor had been helpful. This is encouraging because students and their advisor must work together closely for these projects, and a good relationship between them is important for the projects to be a success. 

4. Laboratory facilities

For those students who carried out a laboratory-based project, they reported that the time after school and at lunchtimes allotted for this had been useful. 

5. Project resources

Project resources, such as guidelines and templates, are made available to students via our school's LMS, Moodle, and increasingly through Google Classroom. The majority of students reported that these resources were useful, although 30% had no opinion about this, so there is definitely room for improvement here. 

6. Areas of concern

As in previous years, one of the main criticisms from students was the lack of dedicated class time for the projects. Unfortunately, given the already packed curriculum, there is little scope for this to change in the future. A number of students also commented that there was too much pressure towards the very end of the projects, with a number of deadlines occurring simultaneously across different subjects. Again, there are limited options for addressing this. However, one of the changes planned for next time is for clearer delineation of project milestones throughout the school year, which will hopefully go some way to distributing the workload more evenly.

Overall then, it would appear that students were generally satisfied with the science projects and what they learned from them. However, as always, there is scope for refining the projects and their administration, in an on-going cycle of improvement, based on the students' own thoughts and opinions.