Evaluating evaluating.

Assessing and evaluating students could be the most difficult aspect of teaching.  Luckily, with the following resources and the advent of learning analytics and catalytics that can offer personalized learning and immediate feedback (TEDx Talks, 2013), the process is becoming easier.

Assessing Creativity:

In Wiggins’ 2012 blog post on assessing creativity, he states “If rubrics are sending the message that a formulaic response on an uninteresting task is what performance assessment is all about, then we are subverting our mission as teachers.”  When I first started teaching, I struggled with using rubrics, as I felt I was essentially turning all creative endeavors into fill in the blank tasks in which I was still determining the outcome of the student work – essentially turning it into a search and find for information.  While they were gaining practice in finding and evaluating sources of information, I still felt as though true learning of the content was missing.  In the following year, I did not use a rubric and while the creativity aspect improved, the content then was missing and the quality was variable.  Through these experiences, I realized that the problem was not in using a rubric, but rather in using a poor rubric that did not account for creativity.  With some adjustments to making the rubric more open ended, I sought balance between the two – afterall, as noted by Bransford, Brown, and Cocking (2000) foundational knowledge is necessary for transfer to occur.  Wiggins has an interesting rubric for measuring creativity that can be adapted to fit into current rubrics.

A Sum Greater than the Parts:

Furthermore, in Gee’s 2008 interview Grading with Games, he notes that experiences help to contextualize new information for students and emphasizes that need for learners to work in collaborative settings that are more indicative of how they will solve problems outside of academia.  To this end, he states that groups should be “smarter than the smartest person” in the group.  It is essential that we help students identify their strengths – and weaknesses – in order for them to realize how to contribute and collaborate effectively in teams.  Intellect alone is not enough, as that intellect has to be applied and shared to create an impact.

Ready, Action:

Taking these aspects into account, I have been working to reevaluate my former grading scheme – previously based on tests, labs, and homework – which was neither creative nor telling of skills actually acquired/improved throughout the year.  Rather, I think it may be better to assign a metric based on foundational knowledge, communication, and creativity in application.

Time to hash out some rubrics to see if this scheme works….

References:

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. National Academies Press. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368.

Edutopia. (2008) James Paul Gee on Grading with Games. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0

TEDx Talks. (2013, January 10). Reimagining Learning: Richard Culatta at TEDxBeaconStreet. [Video File]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0uAuonMXrg.

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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