Evaluating student's practical skills using project based assessment methods

Posted by Anete Stine Teimane, on Oct. 6, 2022, 4:28 p.m.

Anete Stīne Teimane

University of Latvia (UoL), Faculty of Chemistry


Challenge and goal

Courses which are designed to teach practical skills usually produce large amounts of reports. If each student produces an individual report the workload of the lecturer is too large to pay a lot of attention to each work. An assessment method which reflects students actual understanding but at the same time is not too time consuming for the lecturer is therefore necessary.

Topic of the user case

Project based assesssment, peer assesment, soft skills

Local context (specific)

Number of students enrolling in the BSc Chemistry program at University of Latvia is usually in the range from 60 to 75. During their BSc studies they performe multiple experiments and calculations which are mostly done individually. Most common approach used for evaluating their work are individual reports, which must be filled out in a template. Due to large amounts of these reports the lecturers are checking them less rigorously or lowering the requirments in order to cope with the workload. It is hard to understand students overall practical skills since the reports reflect more about student's reporting skills rather than understanding and usability aspects of practical methods. A lack of motivation for doing the reports can also be seen, which might be due to not seeing other situations where specific method could be used. The final assessment method used in such courses is usually written exercises where mainly ability to do calculations relevant to practival methods is tested.

If given a group project with a specific goal which can be reached using methods learned during the course students can be more motivated to refresh their memories about the methods learnd in the course, learn how to use the newly gained knowledge in similar situtions and work on their soft skills in a more research based fashion. 

Local educational scope (science, technology, engineering, math, other)

Practical courses in faculty of chemistry

Local CPD goals

Improve students understanding of practical methods by simultanoiously developing skills necessary for research and communication

Reduce the workload of lecturers working with large groups of students


Needs defined in STEM-CPD Roadmap

3 choose an appropriate assessment method for their course
10 support students in socializing (specifically e.g. during a pandemic)
14 teach large groups of students
18 design problem solving sessions
22 use research based teaching methods
23 use project based teaching methods
12 design laboratory courses
8 develop critical thinking by students
11 stimulate discussion
30 make/produce short MOOCs
5 following online courses / MOOC about teaching and learning.
11 collaborating with a peer-lecturer on a redesign of a course.
13 collaborating on a teaching innovation project.

CPD activities at the local university

Introduction of project based final assessment in courses teaching students practical methods in faculty of chemistry

Teaching and learning materials


microMOOC for lecturers to introduce the concept and main ideas

Sustainable implementation

Firstly, a meeting with the dean of faculty of chemistry will be organized to understand the steps to be taken. 

Secondly, microMOOC will be advertised to lecturers of relevant courses.

Lastly, project based assessment will be implemented and hopefully assimilated by other lecurers by setting a good example.


Expected impact of the CPD User Case

Implementation of project based assessment to improve students understanding of practical methods as well as reduction of lecturers workload regarding assessments. 

Plans for eventual continuation of the CPD within the same topic

Sharing knowledge and experience with other relevant STEM study programms.


Constructive alignment, Competence teaching, Problem solving (design and teaching), Engagement and motivation, facilitation discipline specific learning, Deep learning, Use of digital tools for a pedagogical goal (type P1-1, P1-2a, P1-3a, P1-3b, P1-3c, P1-4a)

This CPD scenario describes a User case in which lecturers develop their competence in sound course design and teaching in higher education and facilitating problem solving and how to engage and motivate students and how to facilitate discipline specific thinking and how to facilitate student’s deep learning and development of higher cognitive skills and how to use specific digital tools in teaching for a pedagogical goal.
The approximate duration of a User case that follows this scenario is several months.
In this CPD scenario the participants are using a very short open online course, a micro mooc (μmooc).

Learning environment
Several months

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