To me, one of the most important concepts in assessment is Stiggins’ differentiation of assessment OF learning and assessment FOR learning. Assessment OF learning, of course, is assessment mainly focused on evaluation, letting us know how much students have learned. Assessment FOR learning is primarily designed to help students learn, by giving students and teachers the information they need.
I have said before that the distinction Stiggins made has caused me to contemplate a parallel relationship between assessment and creativity. Researchers have worked for years to develop assessments OF creativity—assessments that will help us recognize and evaluate creativity. But in schools, most assessments have other purposes. Since we must have assessments, let’s design them so they are supportive of students’ creativity, as well as their learning. Here, I’m not talking about the standardized tests that make headlines, but the everyday assessments that occur moment-to-moment in good classrooms.
Assessment FOR creativity considers how we can assess the content we teach in ways that are supportive of creativity. Because of the ties between intrinsic motivation and creativity, it makes sense that assessment supportive of intrinsic motivation will be supportive of creativity as well. So, I believe there are at least three characteristics of assessment FOR creativity.
- Assessment FOR creativity builds intrinsic motivation through a sense of increasing competence. This requires the wise use of diagnostic and formative assessments, as well as appropriate feedback.
- Assessment FOR creativity provides opportunities to use content in new ways, through examining multiple perspectives, solving problems, and applying ideas in original situations.
- Assessment FOR creativity builds intrinsic motivation through the use of choice and meaningful tasks.
Over the next few weeks I’ll think about these three characteristics and how they might play out in classrooms.