Brianne Gidcumb | June 2015

Assessing Creativity

The Creative Process

Last week, we talked about the role of standards in teaching the creative process. Although standardizing the creative process seems a bit counterintuitive, (Creative standards? Isn’t that an oxymoron?) these standards actually promote their ability to engage in the creative process in a productive and organized manner. This will provide a framework for exploring and realizing their creative ideas to the full extent. In doing so, we’ll be able to begin assessing creativity in students.

Here comes the tricky part: if we value creativity and the creative process, we have to assess it. So how can we assess something as subjective as assessing creativity? Let’s unpack some ways we might go about setting the stage for assessment in the creative process.

Set the stage. 

Ensure the work you engage students in sets the stage for assessing creativity. In the arts, this happens quite naturally if we are teaching to the standards with fidelity. The National Core Arts Standards walk us through teaching the creative process to students. Providing a framework for students to explore their creative ideas while we examine the process in an objective manner sets the stage for promoting creative thinking. Similarly, engaging students in the inquiry or design process promotes creative thinking. Allowing students to explore ideas in a safe, structured context.

Define creativity. 

You also may need to redefine yours or your students’ criteria for success. There is no “one-size-fits-all” in assessing creativity. There is no one correct answer. Sometimes, this is daunting to students accustomed to this type of educational atmosphere. There is value in explicitly teaching students what creativity is, what it might look like in various contexts, and how to recognize creativity in the classroom.

Defining creativity can organically and seamlessly start with the teacher’s recognition and praise of assessing creativity when it happens in the classroom. Praise creative responses. Indulge students’ “what if” questions as a springboard to inquiry and new ideas. Build upon existing ideas with questioning. Brainstorm multiple solutions to problems. Encourage students to share their new ideas and trains of thought.

Creativity is not only the ability to generate original ideas, but also the ability to draw upon a variety of sources to synthesize ideas in new ways and to communicate existing ideas in original ways. Encourage students to gather multiple sources related to an idea or problem as a means to choose the best idea. Moreover, they could even generate a new way of communicating what has been learned through various mediums in an innovative way.

Provide examples. 

Creativity often draws upon works from many other sources and is the convergence of many ideas, putting things together in new ways, or choosing the best idea. Examine the creative process of others’ and how they have synthesized ideas into original work. In the arts, we can have students examine particular elements of the arts in the artistic compositions of others, and then apply the same process of examination to their own work. The same goes for writing, design, and problem- or project-based learning scenarios. 

Define assessment of creativity. 

In summary, the key to assessing creativity is recognizing that creativity is a process, and this process should be assessed formatively. We can encourage students to use prescribed formats and processes creatively, and give feedback on the originality of new and creative ideas, while honoring the creative process itself through formative assessments. Through these formative assessments, we give students the opportunity to build their creative thinking skills through inquiry, revision, generating new ideas, and preparing work for presentation.

Want to learn more about authentic assessment and have a ready-made toolkit of assessments for your classroom?  Check out our assessment for makers self-paced, online class and receive 10 PD hours.

Sample Creativity Rubrics

Sample Rubric for Assessing the Creative Process

Music Composition Rubric

Buck Institute for Education’s Creativity Rubrics

Grant Wiggins’ Creativity Rubric

Susan Brookhart’s Rubric for Creativity

About the Author

Brianne is a former music educator from Chicago and current graduate class instructor with EdCloset’s Learning Studios. She earned her Masters degree in Music Education from VanderCook College of Music and has over a decade of experience in the elementary general music classroom. With her experience in the performing arts, Brianne is dedicated to building connections between the arts and Common Core Standards, 21st century learning skills, inquiry and project-based learning. In addition to her work with EducationCloset, Brianne is a yoga instructor in the Chicagoland area. You can also find Brianne here: