I have developed a template for project evaluation that we use regularly in my Introduction to Digital Humanities undergraduate course and which may be of use to others. The template is available for download and reuse on Humanities Commons (http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/tfab-j603). I have also included it below.
It developed during the first semester when I was teaching and building my course based on Miriam Posner’s framework of How Did They Make That? and having students learn about digital humanities by exploring DH projects included in Around DH in 80 Days. The template that came out of that first semester has since been developed a bit, but I have now been using this template unchanged since 2017. What continues to change is how I have integrated the template into the course and the scaffolding that I have added to ensure that class time is reflective of my course learning objectives.
The aim of the template is to make visible the things that I am looking for the students to learn over the course of the semester. Through this template, they are regularly asked to consider the people and institutional contexts of a digital project; the funding involved (if any); the role of audience in developing a project; the underlying material and data (and the choices related to that material) that is presented; what presentation type has been chosen and why; and, what considerations for accessibility have been made.
Digital Project Evaluation Template
- Who created the project?
- Granting bodies
- Individual people
- Is credit given to individual contributors? To what extent?
- Timeframe (years of project, etc)
- Who are the intended users? (This question also speaks to the purpose of the project, so include a sentence explaining its goals.)
- Material and data
- Type(s) (e.g. newspapers, police reports, geographic maps, diaries, etc)
- Origin(s) (e.g. British Library, New York Historical Society, data.gov, DPLA, etc)
- Type – Why was this presentation format chosen? Does it work well? Why (or why not) and how? (e.g. map, timeline, video, etc)
- Narrative context – Is the user given information about how to use the site (if applicable)? Is the user given historical (or otherwise) context to the content of the project?
We use the template in several ways throughout the semester:
- Project Critique assignments – There are 4 assignments when the students use the template to evaluate a digital project and turn it in for a grade. These are staggered over the course of the semester. For the first one, everyone in class evaluates the same project; for the second one, students choose from among 3 projects; and for the final two, students have more freedom to choose any project they like to evaluate.
- In class exercises – On the second day of class, we all go over the template and evaluate a project together in order to introduce the concepts and show students what I am looking for. Later in the semester, students share their project critiques in class. On exam review day, we evaluate entirely new projects again to ensure everyone knows what I am looking for.
- Final Exam – A large portion of the exam for the class is me handing the template to the students and having them evaluate a project they have not yet seen.
- Final Project – As appropriate to the individual student’s final project, I use the template to evaluate the work they have done.
This document has become increasingly central to my teaching over the years, and I welcome feedback as I continue to improve it. Feel free to re-use and re-mix it – and, if you do, let me know how it goes!