Step 5: Evaluate
Students: Your goal in this step is to evaluate your completed product and the process you used to create the product.
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
About this step
The purpose of this step is two-fold:
- It serves to remind the student to review the finished product before submitting it for teacher evaluation.
- More importantly, it puts the student in the role of evaluator, forcing him/her to determine what has been done well and how the process can be improved.
Depending on whether you have placed more emphasis on the process, or (when working with experienced researchers) the product, you will want to review the five-step process with your students at this time. This review will help the students understand the steps and how they work together. Use the RPC rubric or the printout checklist for Step 5. It is also helpful for everyone to share the rubric with families, as parents can offer more support when they understand what is expected.
While the short-term goal may be mastery of content and completion of a product for your course, the ultimate long-term goal is for your students to develop effective research skills that can be used in both their academic and personal lives. Therefore, we encourage you to emphasize the assessment of the process. This may be new for you, and perhaps uncomfortable, but it will be beneficial to students.
By spending time on this last, but often overlooked, step of self-evaluation, you help your students take responsibility for the quality of their work. They must consider which steps of the research process they do well, and which ones they can improve upon. This helps them to understand their role as evaluators.
It is worthwhile to spend the time generating a classroom discussion and soliciting feedback from students. They can learn from each other. If time is limited, you might want to focus on just one of the steps for classroom discussion and have students do the rest of the self-evaluation on their own. Remind students that the research process, like any skill, becomes easier with practice.
This is also an opportunity for you, as the teacher, to evaluate how well you taught the steps of the process and to determine where you can improve your presentation of the concepts. If you are teaching these skills for the first time, your goal may be simply to increase your comfort level with the process and resources. It can be instructional for your students if you are able to share with them what you feel you did well and where you would like to improve your instruction (your self-evaluation).
How did you do? How can you improve next time?
Consider your assignment and the product you created and ask yourself:
Step 1: Question
- Is the completed product exactly what you were assigned to do?
- Did you do adequate preliminary research on your topic?
- Did you formulate a compelling question?
Step 2: Gather
- Did you use sources in a variety of formats?
- Did you ask a professional for assistance in finding information?
- Did you use carefully selected keywords to search for your information?
- Did you evaluate the credibility and purpose of your resources?
- Did you use a reliable system to record your information?
Step 3: Conclude
- Did you adequately answer your original question or prove your hypothesis?
- Did you support your thesis with authoritative sources?
- Did you build on your understanding of the subject?
- What new information did you learn or create about your topic?
Step 4: Communicate
- Has your work been carefully reviewed and edited?
- Is your work complete? Is it neat?
- Does it include a Title (page, slide or clip) and a Works Cited or Bibliography page?
- Are your sources credited in the proper format?
Step 5: Evaluate
- Would you be proud for anyone to view your work?
- Which of the previous steps did you do best?
- What have you learned from this process?
- How can you improve next time?
Congratulations! You have completed an extensive problem solving project. You have used the steps of the research cycle to gain new knowledge and understandings. You have shared your findings and decisions persuasively.
You are now an experienced researcher!
How did they do? How can they improve next time?
Remind students of the rubric that was presented at the beginning of the project. Spend some time discussing with them how the rubric serves as a goal-setting tool, helping them to know what they are aiming for and why.
To create a rubric for this or other assignments, use one of the websites that provides searchable rubric collections or one of the rubric builder sites.
- Rubric Machine (Landmark project). Search a collection of more than 40,000 rubrics. Sign up and login to create your own rubrics.
- Rubistar. Create rubrics based on subject area templates. Search a collection of thousands of rubrics.
Reiterate that the credit students receive will be determined by their effort and the quality of their work.
Step 1: Ask students:
- Did you understand the assignment?
- What did you know about your topic before beginning the project?
- Could your questions have been better? Would a better question have made your research easier?
Step 2: Ask students:
- Were you able to find sources in a variety of formats?
- Did you ask for help when you got stuck?
- What did you learn about the importance of keywords?
- Why is it important to know how to evaluate your resources?
- How did you record your information? Did it work?
Step 3: Ask students:
- Did you find an answer to your question?
- How could you have approached your topic differently?
- What did you learn about your topic? Why is it important?
- Would you research this topic again?
Step 4: Ask students:
- Did you complete the assignment?
- Is the project complete? (All required steps included)
- What did you learn about citing your sources?
- Did you leave time to edit your work?
- Did you ask someone to review it for you?
Step 5: Ask students
- What did you do well? What do you need to improve?
- Which of the five steps was most challenging for you?
- What could the teacher have done to help you with the process?
You and your students have worked hard and have navigated a complex process. Be sure to give them (and yourself!) adequate credit. Use of the rubric will expedite the grading process and minimize the time you spend evaluating.
Now is a good time for you to jot down some notes for yourself regarding how you want to adjust this assignment the next time around. Much as students are encouraged to have and use their resources (in the form of a person they can go to for help), it is important for you to debrief the project with a trusted colleague and/or your library media specialist.
Finally, don't forget to congratulate your students and yourself. You have all worked hard to improve your research skills by using a systematic approach to the process. Well done!