Throughout the past 7 weeks, CEP 811 has engaged my colleagues and I in a dialogue about how students and teachers interact with education. As educators,we are focused on standards, benchmarks, assessments, differentiation, visible learning – all the “buzzwords” of education. CEP 811 has encouraged us to redefine both how we teach and what we teach in our classroom with the aid of technology and Maker Education. As the course draws to a close, we examine How To Assess student learning in this new context. Just as our lessons and conceptualization of the learning process must evolve when embracing innovative integration of technology in education, so must the manner in which we assess student learning.
As an educator charged with the assessment of student learning, I would assess creative problem solving during maker-inspired lessons in the following ways:
First, the assessment would be highly formative and exploratory in nature. The maker movement is about exploration and problem-solving, a form of formative assessment. Students must assess their progress as they explore and create within the lesson to determine if their work will allow them to reach the end goal. As they assess their progress they reflect on the lessons learned: what worked, what didn’t work, what they still need to do, what they need to know in order to do it. It is a beautiful world of formative assessment disguised as exploration and creativity! Outside of education, individuals engage in learning in an interactive, sequential manner. Whether in video games or on the job, individuals do not sit and read a large textbook on how to do accomplish the task (complete a retail transaction, code a website, beat a level of a video game). Instead, individuals actively participate in the activity, learning only the elements they need to complete the next level or step (McGee, 2010). Consider: how overwhelmed would you be if someone were to walk you through how to use a computer for the first time by teaching you how to use every program and setting on the device? Though we would find such practices unreasonable in the real world , we often do just this with students. We teach them ALL the requisite content, definitions and concepts before releasing them to complete the learning task. Just as we expect people to learn sequentially and through exploration in real-life context, we must provide opportunities to learn in such a manner within our classroom. It allows students to gain skills and take control of their own learning through self-directed exploration and assessment.
The second manner I would assess learning is by incorporating the assessment of creativity. In my content area, music, I frequently ask my students to compose. This may be on instrument, on paper, or even through coding (Sonic Pi). Though my rubric assess requisite criteria such as composition length, accuracy of notation, etc., I also include criteria that encourages student creativity. Educators often avoid assessing criteria that can be considered subjective in nature – creativity, level of engagement, beauty. However, it is critical that these elements are included, for innovative education must encourage students to be creative in both their process and end product! A well designed rubric will describe levels of creativity in explicit terms that encourages students to take chances and inspire their project.
Though masked as academic requirements, this rubric rewards creativity and gives students guidance on how to be creative. Through incorporating rewards for creativity in each of the content categories, creativity is encouraged in a multiplicity of ways. This style of rubric is encouraged and supported by assessment expert, Grant Wiggins. “The point in any performance is to cause the appropriate effects in a performance, i.e. achieve the purpose of the performance” (Wiggins, 2010). In a composition project, the purpose is not to force students to notate music on a page, but to encourage students to tap their inner creativity to create a product that is both engaging and entertaining to an audience and representative of the creator’s ideas. If we wish our students to create a product that is engaging or creative, we must encourage these standards through purposeful rubrics and meaningful assessment and feedback.
McGee, J. (2010, July 20). James Paul McGee on Grading with Games [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0
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/