Over the course of this semester, my understanding of creativity has broadened immensely. I have been given the opportunity to explore the world of making and creating. With that, I’ve learned about what today’s learners need and ways to create lessons that allow for greater success in all students and am finishing up this whirlwind semester by researching ways to assess creativity.
As education shifts from “traditional education” to “maker education”, one of the burning questions many educators have is “how do we assess creativity”? This is a very valid question. It’s important to note that this transition to a more creative and collaborative environment continues to use familiar forms of assessments, such as rubrics. It was said, “students are coming to believe that rubrics hamper their creativity rather than encouraging it. That can only come from a failure on the part of teachers to use the right criteria and multiple & varied exemplars.” (Wiggins, 2012). As educators we need to reassure students that rubrics, goals, and clear expectations do not hinder their creativity, but rather, give each assignment a purpose from which students can begin their creating process.
For this reason, I believe that a rubric for creativity, as described by Wiggins, still provides meaning and guidance for student learning, but should be done with specific focuses. An example of an exemplary example (for full credit) of a creative rubric included the following description: “The work is unusually creative. The ideas/materials/methods used are novel, striking, and highly effective. Important ideas/feelings are illuminated or highlighted in sophisticated ways. The creation shows great imagination, insight, style, and daring. The work has an elegant power that derives from clarity about aims and control over intended effects. The creator takes risks in form, style, and/or content”
- The problem has been imaginatively re-framed to enable a compelling and powerful solution
- Methods/approaches/techniques are used to great effect, without overkill
- “less is more” here: there is an elegant simplicity of emphasis and coherence
- Rules or conventions may have been broken to create a powerful new statement.
- Common materials/ideas have been combined in revealing and clever ways
- The audience is highly responsive to (perhaps disturbed by) the work
- The work is vivid through careful attention to telling details and deft engaging touches
- There is an exquisite blend of the explicit and implicit (Wiggins, 2012)
Before sharing out a rubric with my students, I would first emphasize the importance of students being able to identify the goal, their role, the audience, setting, performance particulars, and the standards of criteria for the assignment. I would also take these ideas and turn them into talking points with students
By having open discussions about these topics periodically during the creative process, students will already have an appropriate mentality for assessment. This type of “gradual feedback” is something that James Paul Gee referenced in Grading with Games. “All video games are is problem solving. Video games are just an assessment. All you do is get assessed all the time. If you don’t pass you fail, the game tells you and you try again. Games are essentially forms of assessment. This something that’s the most painful, ludicrous, part of schooling. […] One thing games don’t really do is separate learning and assessments. They don’t say ‘learn and then test’. They’re giving you feedback all the time about the learning curve that you’re on” (Gee, 2010).
Below is a sample of a rubric for an insect unit project. Students are to create a 3D insect using whatever types of household items they may have. This promotes creativity, critical thinking, and incorporates factual knowledge from research and previous lessons.
The design of these assessments is justified by the following connections to learning theories and to the ideas presented by Wiggins, Isselhardt and Gee because it includes clarity about the goal of a task. Wiggins stated that “when the student has clarity about the Goal of the task, their Role, the specific Audience, the specific Setting, the Performance particulars, and the Standards and criteria against which they will be judged, they can be far more effective – and creative! – than without such information” (Wiggins, 2012).
The benefit of including this type of creative process gives students the chance to think creatively, something that Project Based Learning (PBL) emphasizes. In a case study it was said that, “despite applications of the best reform initiatives, too many of our students still did not achieve to their potential; that authentic learning (which we believe so critical to urban student success) was largely missing; and that the fundamental issue of how to teach critical thinking was rarely addressed as an integrated element of instruction” (Isslehardt, 2013). To close this gap, it would be beneficial for teachers to utilize the PBL approach to instruction so all students see success in learning.
Gee, J. P. (2010) James Paul Gee on Grading with Games. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/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). On assessing for creativity: Yes you can and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from https://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/.