Assessing Project-Based Learning: Plastic Pollution in Vietnam

What Can We Do About Plastic Waste Build-up?

Project Overview / Description:

This is a project I constructed for a previous Teach-Now assignment. It is for ELL students at the high school level, and combines Social Studies, Arts, Science, and English Language Arts. There is a more complete outline and description in the link above, but in brief:

The subject is conservation, or more specifically water conservation. Our students should all learn about the environment, our effects upon it and the contamination that occurs in our oceans and waterways. My students specifically will learn about how to educate and persuade unenlightened native Vietnamese on how litter and plastic pollution in their waterways poses a threat to the future of their country and what they can do to change this.

Their final product will be an engaging cartoon pamphlet or PSA and accompanying Facebook page, illustrating the effects of pollution and best practices to end the cultural blind spot that is the routine, daily dumping of garbage into local rivers and bodies of water.

Driving Question:

How can we stop the widespread and repetitive dumping of garbage/plastic amongst the uneducated lower classes in Vietnam whose cultural bias causes them to see throwing a plastic trash bag in the river no more objectionable than tossing away a used coconut shell?

How Can We Educate the Local People on the Dangers Plastic Poses to Their Way of Life?

Monitoring and Assessment Plan:

The components on which students will be assessed are content — their overall knowledge of plastic contamination — the problems and the solutions — as demonstrated in their work. Next, impact — their cultural recognition of and empathy with the target group. Did they adequately appeal to their target demo’s value system? Next is collaboration — their group work skills. Did they participate and contribute? And finally, 21st century tools — their facility with the media forms. Did they adapt and produce work of professional-quality standards? This rubric will be distributed at the beginning of the PBL and will be referred to throughout for transparency and clarity.

To gauge the arc of learning progress for each student across the entire process of the PBL I will implement Open-Ended Assessments throughout the length of the project in addition to the final assessment outlined in my rubric. These assessments give the opportunity for more elaboration and student differentiation in the monitoring and assessment stage. Open-Ended Assessments require more than a “canned” response and allow for more than one opinion as there is no single “right answer”.

I would use my old standby — Quizlet to administer an initial OEA(Open-Ended Assessment) at the start of the activity to determine areas of opportunity for explicit teaching and other materials to add to instruction. Along with this comes a student-produced Vlog to document their evolving knowledge content and other assessment categories such as facility with 21st century tools. To track collaboration, I would ask that students maintain a small group Google Doc with a listing of individual comments, suggestions and contributions so that I could monitor group work accurately. The Vlog will give me insight into how individual students AND groups are understanding the project and progressing towards learning outcomes. Responsibility for Vlog activities will rotate between the four small groups during the length of the project.

Intermediate Feedback:

During the middle phase of the project the same OEA will be given to the students track student’s learning in terms of the curriculum content, their progress towards the PBL outcomes, their collaboration, use of technology and other outcomes within the PBL. (NSW)

This will consist again of open-ended Kahoot questions to be catalogued for later reference, a check-in on the small group Google doc, along with referral to the Vlog, documenting learner progress, areas of concern, facility with tools and of course collaboration. Students will be asked to rate their progress on the rubric that was given them as a standard self-check. At this stage, along with these checks, reteaching is an option though peer to peer instruction will be the preferred mode of learning. I can prompt and cue the groups who run into snags and I will monitor individual contribution and group work throughout this phase and compare and contrast the Open-Ended Assessment results from the beginning of the PBL up until now, noting again areas that contain gaps in understanding or slower learner progress.

Final Feedback Plan:

My final Open-Ended Assessment will be both a summative check on my student’s progress over the entire PBL experience and an opportunity for highlighting possible areas for improvement in future teaching activities. Because the Open-Ended Approach has allowed for students to express knowledge in their own terms without the fear of censure or rejection I’m able to apply a measure of differentiation to my instruction and track student progress toward my desired learning outcomes.

In addition to a final iteration of this OEA, students will also be assessed objectively through my scoring of their work via the aforementioned rubric. The rubric is straightforward and the assessment criteria have been known to the students and referenced repeatedly throughout the span of the PBL experience. The students are asked to complete their own-self rating once more on their own rubric in order to prompt reflection on the learning experience and in addition will answer the following two questions:

1) What could I as your teacher have done more effectively?

2) What could you as students have done better?

After completion of their PBLs and their presentations, I will use the assessment rubric below to allot scores and give detailed feedback to the small groups regarding their work as a whole and individually. As a further exercise in peer to peer instruction students will be given another rubric to assess the content, impact, collaboration and use of 21st century skills in the evaluation of each other group’s PBL.


Knutson, C. (2018). Plastic pollution PBL. Retrieved on August, 23 2018 from (2018). Learning for the future: project-based learning assessments. Retrieved on August 24, 2018 from (2018). Retrieved on August 23, 2018 from