Galileo School for Gifted Learning
Level 7 Learning
The theme of this week’s readings in my gifted endorsement class is related to assessing creativity in the classroom. It focuses on different kinds of qualitative and quantitative tools that can be used to measure various aspects of creativity from students. These tools include outside tools, that is tools that were created by other for the purpose of assessing student creativity, but there is also discussion of teacher/classroom creativity standards, and how the two should be considered together to ensure that what the school intends to measure is aligned well enough to the assessment tools to have meaningful results. Yet, the whole idea of quantifying creativity through testing seems counterproductive to the idea of being creative itself. So, additional sources were considered that discussed measuring creativity.
One resources that was discovered was an article by Susan M. Brookhart (2013) from the ASCD’s Educational Leadership page. In her discussion about assessing the creative processes used by children, the author has a rubric that she suggests using or modifying for that purpose. Yet, she also cautions the reader that the rubric should not be used to grade creativity. It’s only purpose is to give a visual scale by which the teacher can give feedback or the student can self-assess her/his creativity in the assignment. She writes
I created this rubric with some trepidation—because where there’s a rubric, there will be someone who’s thinking of using it to grade. Generating a grade is not the intended purpose of the rubric for creativity. Rubrics help clarify criteria for success and show what the continuum of performance looks like, from low to high, from imitative to very creative. For that reason, rubrics are useful for sharing with students what they’re aiming for, where they are now, and what they should do next. I do not recommend grading creativity (Brookhart, 2013, para. 22).
It seems wise to counsel against grading creativity because any attempt to quantify it diminishes the quality that makes it creative in the first place. Yet, as the author points out, we need tools to show students how they can increase their creative learning process. The question remains whether rubrics are the right approach to solve this problem.
It seems that the biggest hurdle to assessing creativity in school is the fact that teachers fail to recognize creativity in the first place. We score students on conformity rather than difference and rarely give the opposite feedback.
Brookhart (2013) demonstrates this by showing two poems, one that uses correct form and spelling and even includes a carefully drawn illustration that is a direct copy of the school’s logo, and the other which is about a boy’s self-perception that uses poor form and has spelling errors. The teacher gave only positive feedback for the first, but only negative for the second. Brookhart’s point is that the teacher failed to recognize that the second poem was more creative than the first one even though the quality of the work—the uniformity of the style—was inversely related to the level of creativity. Accordingly, the teacher only gave half the feedback.
Perhaps there is another aspect of creativity that is only marginally addressed by the discussion at hand. It seems that the grading system itself has not only limited children’s creativity, but made it less likely that teachers can see or assess creativity at all without at least making a concerted effort to do so. A large part of the problem is that recognizing creativity in the first place is left to non-creative standards. One of the first noticeable things is that most of the authors writing about the topic are defining creativity as putting together two or more divergent things in a unique way, and copying of any sort is considered less creative. Yet, if every child is taught to create by putting together to or more different things, then s/he isn’t being creative. S/he is copying the two or more divergent concepts idea of creativity. What is creative about that?
When the entire fine art’s world was becoming more and more abstract, then abstract and non-objective art became conventional. If everyone is doing divergent, non-copying, then it seems that it may not be so original to continue doing that. Yet, in the midst of these movements pop art developed were artists began copying things from popular culture like Campbell’s soup cans, ice cream cones, and balloon animals. Likewise, photorealism started to develop, where the artist became as close to camera-like in his/her reproduction skills. Were these forms of art less creative due to the copying aspects of their work, or were they more creative because they took a leap against a tide that was constantly moving toward creating works that expressed moods and feelings over anything tangible? In the pop art movement, there may have been some putting together of divergent ideas, like commercialism, society, and fine arts, but can one say the same about the photorealism movement? Yet, some extremely creative images started to develop from that movement as well. However, by Brookhart’s rubric, those artworks wouldn’t be considered creative because they don’t consider a “…variety of concepts from different contexts or disciplines…a wide variety of sources…[and they don’t combine ideas] in original and surprising ways…” (2013, fig. 1). They simply move against the tide and flow of the rest of the movements in art.
Considering this, it is questionable whether teachers can even recognize and define what creativity is, much less create rubrics or measuring tools to quantify it. Treffinger, Young, Selby, & Shepardson (2002) write, “The complex and multidimensional nature of creativity cannot be captured effectively and comprehensively by any single instrument or analytical procedure” (p. 25). Conversely, Brookhart (2013) says, “Creativity is a simple concept that can be difficult to get your head around. In its most basic sense, creativity means ‘original and high quality’” (para. 7). The reality is the definition of creativity is more elusive and dependent upon the times as well as the circumstances in which something is created than either group can accurately assess. It is certainly not something that can easily, in any sense, be assessed by teachers who aren’t really sure how to define it themselves. Rather than try to quantify or even qualify student creativity, teachers need to begin developing their own creativity and then make their thinking process transparent as an exemplar to their students of how to think creatively in any content area. Instead, we tend to show physical exemplars of what we think are creative works, which the students try to copy.
Brookhart, S. M. (2013, February). Assessing Creativity. Retrieved from Educational Leadership: http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/feb13/vol70/num05/Assessing-Creativity.aspx
Treffinger, D. J., Young, G. C., Selby, E. C., & Shepardson, C. (2002). Assessing creativity: A guide for educators. Sarasota, FL: Center for Creative Learning.