What is free range assignments?
Free-range assignments is an umbrella term for assignments that vary in the format of presentation while accomplishing the same learning objectives.
For such assignments, teachers give students relative freedom in choosing their preferred method of presentation, including paper, journal, digital story, photo album, poster, presentation and many other methods students choose for themselves. Teachers provide resources, expectations, examples, guidance, and evaluation for students to succeed.
The idea of the free range assignment came from the rationale that students may achieve more in their mastery of competency if they are allowed to choose their own method of expression. The method is especially useful for general education courses with students coming from various disciplines who may not have the same method of assessment.
Free-range assignments also help students with functional limitations by allowing them to engage in an expression in which they do not need specific accommodations.
Practical tips for implementing free range assignments
- Provide students with or guide them toward rich resources as well as helpful professionals, especially when incorporating new technology, to successfully produce their assignments.
- Explain the expected learning outcome and help students understand that their persistence will lead to success because of confusion and anxiety among students, especially those more comfortable with the traditional assessment methods, are common responses to free-range assignments.
- Teachers may find it helpful to collect completed free-range assignments to show as examples with the permission of their owners in future classes.
- Encourage students to evaluate their own work and reflect on the assignment itself, contemplating on how it can be improved, which is valuable to students as it lends permanence to the concepts they have explored in the project.
- Develop a rubric that clearly defines an excellent assignment and include necessary components of the assignments as well as the rating scale used, all of which can reinforce students’ understanding of the expected learning outcomes.
- Encourage group work for complex assignments and suggest that those doing similar assignments learn certain relevant skills together.
- Break down large projects into smaller units in order to guide students more effectively through each step in the process, from the initiation of the project idea to the development of the final product.
Fang, B., Shewmaker, J., & Self, S. (2015). Designing free-range assignments. Academia.edu, 120-129. doi:10.3233/978-1-61499-530-2-120