Assessing Creativity

I have been thinking about how to assess creativity.  I have been thinking the following question.

“As an educator charged with the assessment of student learning, I would assess creative problem solving during maker-inspired lessons in the following ways…”  Interestingly, this is a question I never directly thought about, I just always subconsciously did it.  I consider myself great at many things: adapting, researching, self-confidence, and many more traits, but one thing I am not great at is creativity. So what I like to do is use others creativity, how this is done in my teaching is to give students the opportunity to be creative in their learning process. One given example of this is giving my class a topic I want them to explore (my learning outcome for the class), and asking them how they want to explore it or what specifically about it they want to explore.

Here is a specific example, I have a class that has a learning outcome of understanding energy systems, and how they are utilized during exercise.  Now I could give them a lecture with a PowerPoint and a graph showing at what time, on average, how much of each energy system is being used.  Most of the time this is what a class would do, but instead I ask my students to think about this problem and decide in groups what they would like to learn about energy systems and exercise, and how they can create an activity to research this.  Students are far more creative than I ever could be, and some of the ideas they come up with are amazing to me.  Now my job as the educator is to make sure all of them are challenging themselves, truly learning, and working hard in their collaboration, but they are free to use their creativity. At the end of their work I grade how well they did at deeply engaging with our desired content area, and how well they did at the work they chose to explore.  This encourages creativity, while still assessing their learning, and helping to foster their creativity in a positive and productive manner.

Now you may be thinking, “Sure this can encourage creativity, but does it really assess creativity?”. No, there is no specific measurement or assessment of creativity here, but fear not creativity is assessed.  So, how do I assess creativity? Well there are a few ways.  First, a presentation must be complete original work, and if it isn’t original work, or a new take on previous work, it will be redone.  This is a simple pass/fail or better allowed/not allowed aspect of the grading.  Next, students will assess other groups based on two criteria, was the presentation engaging, and was the presentation educational.  This is an assessment from the audience of the presentation, which is directly assessing creativity.  Lastly, when working with the students to decide on a project to do, I will be formatively assessing and guiding their creativity by challenging them to choose a topic or research question that is new and different.  These methods of assessment are discussed in greater depth by Wiggins (2012) in his online blog in relation to assessing creativity.

We are constantly discussing how we need to have more people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg creating the new ideas of the future, but if we arent teaching, and encouraging creativity in our schools we will never push these students to their creative potential.  In the world where information is everywhere, teaching kids how to be creative and how to think in new ways is more and more important than teaching them to memorize information.

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from

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