At a pivotal time in education, whether teachers are taking a plunge, or dipping their toes in the Maker Movement, we are inevitably thinking about assessment. Assessment is a big idea in our practice and comes from all directions. Districts expect it, parents want it, teachers need it, and most importantly our students do too! This is not a new idea for teachers. You start with your standards, what must our students know, you think about how will we know when they’ve got it… you plan your learning activities… and so on. On the other hand, what about the 21st century
skills we know employers seek in our students? Specifically creativity! Can, or better yet, should creativity be assessed?
As seen in some studies, such as this one at Green Street Academy, in spite of best practice instruction, students were still missing the critical thinking aspect of learning (Isslehardt, 2013).
This need, in order for our students to survive in a society that asks for more than low-level service work, requires creativity (Gee, 2008). Well, how do we know when a student “has it”? As an educator charged with the assessment of student learning, I would assess creative problem solving during maker-inspired lessons by implementing the following practices in the classroom:
Grading for Impact: This practice entails teachers and students looking at the work based on how it impacts the audience. Content and process are still factors, yet students are thoughtful about how the student’s product impacts the intended audience and the level of engagement that will be attained. Students engaging their audience (whether through a writing piece, presentation, video or so on) is a natural catalyst for intrinsic motivation.
Student Reflection: The benefits of student reflection in the classroom are abundant. Using this practice for creativity will undoubtedly have the same effects. I will go over a version of Wiggins rubric for creativity with my students and discuss what it means to them. We will brainstorm how to achieve these types of results, and what it means to be creative. As a class we will look at examples of creativity both teacher and student selected. We will use the rubric to grade the examples we find, then discuss together how the examples could be modified to effectively reach the intended audience creatively.
Peer Review: Through peer review I will give my students many opportunities for revision and feedback. When peer review is used effectively and students are given time to modify and revise work before the final performance or due date, they are more likely to make the suggested modification. When students are given feedback only after the due date or final performance, students generally no longer have the motivation to make the adjustments.
As Wiggins points out, we are deceiving the learner if we do not address the level of engagement and creativity of their work (2012). This may be new and uncharted territory but well worth the moments of discomfort teachers might feel. It will take multiple attempts to find what is just right for teachers and students. Therefore yes! Assess creativity!
Gee, J. P. [Edutopia]. (2010, July 20). James Paul Gee on grading with games [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0
Isslehardt, E. (2013, February 11). Creating Schoolwide PBL Aligned to Common Core [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/PBL-aligned-to-common-core-eric-isslehardt
Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: Yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/
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