Themes

RAFT Assignments & Rubrics to Engage Students in Learning

The RAFT method is an approach to projects that is designed for engaging students, creating assignments and rubrics, and providing opportunities for students to customize learning to their own learning styles. It is student-directed differentiation at its best, and yet can be held to a rigorous evaluation standard. Here is how it works.

R – ROLE
The R stands for ROLE. The students determine the role they wish to take in the presentation of the project. For instance, in a nursing program, students could speak from the perspective of the patient, nurse, doctor, family member, hospital administration, or community at large. In a fifth grade science classroom, students could speak from the perspective of the frog, pond, scientist observing the frog, wildlife federation, or community where the pond is. The ROLE of the learner is entirely up to each learner.

Student giving presentation
Photo: Unsplash

A – AUDIENCE
The A stands for AUDIENCE. The students choose the audience to whom they are presenting. In many cases, the options for audiences could be similar to the ones available for the role.

F – FORMAT
The F stands for FORMAT. This is the format in which the assignment is presented. Students have the freedom to choose if they wish to write a research paper, do a presentation, create a short video, Prezi, or power point, do a play, facilitate a debate, create a gallery photo display, or any other presentation type that they can come up with. Freedom in format liberates the student in how to present their work.

T – TOPIC
The T stands for TOPIC. Several topics are chosen by the teacher and presented to the students to choose from. Given the many options in each of the 4 categories R.A.F.T. student generated projects will be widely diverse even if the topics are limited.

A teacher may get overwhelmed with the amount of options that students have. To make things easier, a teacher can simply choose to give students options in one of the four factors, instead of all four. For instance, the teacher could choose the role, the audience, and the topic, and let the students choose the format of their presentations.

Invariably the question from teachers is “How do I measure the success of the students equitably when there are so many project options?”  The easiest way to achieve this is to use a standardized rubric that fits all project options and holds all students to the same rigor in assignment production. There are a wide variety of categories that can be used for the rubric that will apply to any project, such as the introduction, focus, grammar and mechanics, sequencing and completeness, communication, word choice, communication, audience awareness, communication, APA Style, discipline inclusion, and conclusion.

While it can require a mental shift for the teacher, allowing students freedom in creating their projects can increase student engagement and allow them to connect with the material in the way that works best for them personally.

Sample Rubric for RAFT Projects

Sharon Aka

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