# Progressive project assignment

## 1 Definition

- Progressive project assignment is Leeper's (1989) instructional design model or method of designing projects that are challenging and attainable for each student in a class.

This design for projects in computer courses can be applied to other contexts. It “tends to enable all students in the class to achieve their maximum potential. Each project is structured at three progressive levels of difficulty corresponding to three prospective grades A, B, and C. The B-level is an extension of the C-level and the Alevel is an extension of the B-level. Each student starts at the C-level and progresses as far as possible and is scored accordingly” (Leeper, 1989, 88).

## 2 Architecture

Each assignment has three parts:

- Each project has a core part that includes all the principles the project intents to convey and each student is expected to complete this part. A correct project gets a 'C' (US grading)

- A second part extens the project and requires a significant effort from students who elect to aim higher than 'C'. Students who correctly finish this 'B' part and the 'C' part will get a 'B'.

- Same principle for a third 'A' part

It is important that projects are progressive. Otherwise, some weaker students may select 'A' and then get stuck, which will lead to an 'F' (failure).

## 3 Evaluation

There are two steps:

- Evaluation of each project type (A,B,C) is made with an appropriate grid.
- The result is then multiplied with a "level factor".

E.g. on a scale from 0 to 20 points:

18-20 = A 16-17 = B 14-15 = C 12-13 = D

Level factors:

A = 20/20 B = 17/20 C = 15/20

### 3.1 Evaluation example

Here is an example presented by Leeper (1989: 90) for teaching a computer class.

The grading system is patterened after Linda Rising (1987):

- Correctness
- Design
- Style
- Documentation
- Efficiency

“A project is assigned a score of 0-4 points for each of these factors. These scores are totalled (maximum is 20) then multiplied by the level factor that corresponds to the number of steps completed by the student for this project. This result is rounded then converted to a letter grade. For example, suppose a student submits a B-level project and the scores are as follows:” (Leeper, 1989:90):

- Correctness 3
- Design 4
- Style 4
- Documentation 3
- Efficiency 4

Total = 18

The level factor for project level B is 17/20. Multiplying the total score by this factor

18 x 17/20 = 15.3 (Rounded to 15)

Therefore, the final grade falls in the C range.

## 4 Discussion

Leeper resports that this method resulted in significantly fewer "A" and "F" grades and significantly more "B", "C" and "D" grades.

This result should interest many teachers since the idea is to leave as few students as possible behind but also to set high challenges for the best.

## 5 References

- Leeper, R. 1989. Progressive project assignments in computer courses. SIGCSE Bull. 21, 1 (Feb. 1989), 88-92. Abstract / PDF (
*Access restricted*)

- Rising, Linda (1987). Teaching documentation and style in Pascal, ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, v.19 n.3, p.8-9, September 1, 1987 Abstract / PDF