Assessment FOR Creativity

It is interesting when things that don’t seem as if they’d go together at all come together to make something wonderful—cayenne pepper in hot chocolate, or fig-flavored gelato (you might have to come to Michigan for that!). I think assessment and creativity are like that. I teach courses in both, and the more I think about them, the more they seem to come together.

If I were to ask you to list the first ten words you associate with creativity in the classroom, I’d guess that “assessment” would not be among them—unless maybe you created a list of things that made developing creativity difficult. High stakes assessments have increased the pressure to “deliver” content in neat test-ready bites. It is easy to to think that assessment is the enemy of creativity, but it’s not true. We just have to remember that assessment ≠ standardized tests.

Stiggins has made an important distinction between assessment OF learning–assessment focused on making judgments about what students have learned–and assessment FOR learning—assessment that supports and facilitates student learning. In the same way, I propose considering assessment FOR creativity, in addition to assessment OF creativity.

Assessment OF creativity, of course, is assessment that attempts to measure creativity or some aspect of creativity. While there are many difficulties in this task, contemporary researchers have been working to develop measures OF creativity for more than 50 years. On the other hand, while there is plenty of discussion/ranting about the stifling impact of high-stakes testing on creativity (OK, I’ve done a bit of it myself), there has been much less conversation about how classroom assessment can be supportive of creativity—how can we have assessment FOR creativity?

For the next few Thursdays I’d like to consider that question. The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that assessment FOR creativity is assessment FOR learning as well. Such a deal!

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