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Assessing students’ work
in robotics

Assessment ideas

Years 7-8; Years 9-10

In this short video, Dr Ethan Danahy talks through his assessment approach for a unit where students design and create a robotic animal in teams. This could be useful for teachers who are seeking ideas for designing assessment around robotics projects, including assessment characteristics.

Assessing students’ work in robotics


In this 7-minute video, Dr Danahy from Tufts University Engineering and Outreach Centre talks through his assessment framework for his students’ team robotics projects. The students are in a first-year undergraduate engineering course, and use LEGO NXT. Although Dr Danahy talks about assessment for college students, ideas from his approach and key indicators for assessment can transfer to bands 7–8 and 9–10.

Dr Danahy shares his assessment components, which include: weekly challenges, a final project (design documents, development, self- and peer-grading and presentation) and a midterm exam. In the video, Danahy explains the assessment criteria in the context of designing a robotic animal. Advice from his assessment framework can be adapted for other robotics projects.

Dr Danahy talks through the characteristics of assessment, which include looking at: design, interactions/interface, programming/code (functionality, structure), construction/stability, performance, presentation and documentation. Situated in the context of a robotics animal project he describes how he breaks down the marking criteria around these characteristics.

This video could provide a starting point for educators before moving on to more rigorous assessment design and planning.

Guidance For Use

This video could be used for personal professional learning, or viewed by a group of teachers in a school before designing assessment for a robotics project.


  • At the start of the unit Danahy provides a syllabus to students that explains the course content, assessment and learning intentions. It also describes engineering content and other relevant skills that will be explored in the unit.
  • He has students submit their work to an online environment to display their design documents, code, videos, images of their robot, etc. These can be reviewed by educators for formative and summative assessment. He uses this to provide feedback to the groups.
  • His exam questions include questions testing students’ abilities to read/analyse and debug code, and their conceptual understandings, among other elements.
  • Consider co-designing assessment rubrics with students at the start of the unit.

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