Being a science teacher comes with all sorts of challenges, details, and oversights. We all know that. How we approach these challenges, however, is what defines us as teachers.

One such challenge comes up routinely: How to assess.

Out With Tradition

When it comes to assessing students, teacher’s often think an exam or general test even quiz is the way to go. I’m here to say no to tests! Tests are the easy way out and have a flawed caliber on rating your students’ grasp of knowledge. Also, your students are going to be getting enough practice with tests and exams through standardized ones. why add to the mundane test-taking culture when you can take a more creative, impact-ful approach?

In With Ambition

Contrary to prior belief, there are TONs of alternate assessments or creative projects that could be used to assess students in science classrooms. Here are just a few examples:

– Sculptures-

Sculptures or models are a great way for a student to develop a tangible understanding such as atomic structure!


Collages are another great visual for a student to connect perhaps real world and classroom content to make something constructed from what they know!

-Flipped Class: 

Have the students take the reigns of a class lesson so they are teaching a lesson is another way you can gauge your students’ level of understanding based on how comfortable they are teaching it to their peers.


Crafting some form of advertising project work in gaining student interest on many different levels such as real world pertinence, creative outlet, and even building up to developing a commercial or a debate! This works great with any topic that has benefits that can be spun in advertising prowess!

Measuring The Assessment

Tests are the easy way out in terms of assessing. I say this because they have a built in scale of what is right and wrong. Posing an alternate or creative style of assessment calls for a more in-depth way of grading.

Rubrics are important for these measurements of learning. Most sculptures, speeches,  literature works, etc. aren’t going to have an outlined exact answer key. Utilizing a rubric ensures leaving the creative outlet open while also setting specific parameters to ensure they have learned the material.

Here is an example of a rubric that could be used for the flipped classroom example:

If I were to use this in my own classroom, I would incorporate a peer-review portion in order to accommodate perhaps an ELL student who maybe wasn’t the most vocal during the presentation but still contributed to the presentation in other ways. Another accommodation I would make is to have a video alternative assignment if a I have a student with a physical disability as to not make them be in the front of the class should they not want it.



  1. Hi Wyatt! Thanks for your post! I think you gave some solid examples for alternative assessments. I particularly like the idea of a flipped classroom. I know that one of the best ways I know to make sure that I understand something is to try to teach it to someone else. It’s a great idea to flip that around and make the students show their learning. This form of assessment would also benefit kids who don’t typically test well.

    As we start to learn more about the effects of standardized testing we are realizing that it is not as effective as we once thought. What do you think will be the next big way we try to assess students?

    • Peter,

      Thank you for your comments! I’m not sure how to answer your question because I’m not sold there will be a new “fad” when it comes to assessment. While I believe testing to be ill-representative of learning, I’m not sure if, as a holistic society, we are moving toward a better way to assess that will rid us of testing. I hope whatever it is, it is more differentiated, engaging, and representative of learning than current tests!

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