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Assessing creativity

What do we mean by creativity? Do you know it when you see it? How do you recognise it? How can we assess it in ways that are credible but don't standardise and thus undermine the very concept of creativity?

Which of the examples in this video are the most creative? (I suggest playing it at double speed)

How did you decide? Were you thinking about their aesthetic appeal (big C Creativity) or the degree to which they solve a problem (little c creativity).

What about the following footware? Which is the most (little c) creative?

Slip on shoe
Slip on shoe with elasticated gussets
Velcro shoe
Boots with belts and buckles
Flip flops

The Australian Curriculum defines creativity in terms of creative thinking, which:

involves students learning to generate and apply new ideas in specific contexts, seeing existing situations in a new way, identifying alternative explanations, and seeing or making new links that generate a positive outcome. This includes combining parts to form something original, sifting and refining ideas to discover possibilities, constructing theories and objects, and acting on intuition. The products of creative endeavour can involve complex representations and images, investigations and performances, digital and computer-generated output, or occur as virtual reality. 

The Australian Curriculum links creative and critical thinking, and breaks them down into 12 sub-elements, each of which has six levels. For example:

Sub-element Imagine possibilities and connect ideas Consider alternatives
Level 1
Typically by the end of Foundation Year, students:
use imagination to view or create things in new ways and connect two things that seem different suggest alternative and creative ways to approach a given situation or task
Level 2
Typically, by the end of Year 2, students:
build on what they know to create ideas and possibilities in ways that are new to them identify and compare creative ideas to think broadly about a given situation or problem
Level 3
Typically, by the end of Year 4, students:
expand on known ideas to create new and imaginative combinations explore situations using creative thinking strategies to propose a range of alternatives
Level 4
Typically, by the end of Year 6, students:
combine ideas in a variety of ways and from a range of sources to create new possibilities identify situations where current approaches do not work, challenge existing ideas and generate alternative solutions
Level 5
Typically, by the end of Year 8, students:
draw parallels between known and new ideas to create new ways of achieving goals generate alternatives and innovative solutions, and adapt ideas, including when information is limited or conflicting
Level 6
Typically, by the end of Year 10, students:
create and connect complex ideas using imagery, analogies and symbolism speculate on creative options to modify ideas when circumstances change

What is immediately obvious is that the Australian Curriculum is looking at the process whereas the photos I provided are looking at products.

You cannot assess the creativity of any of the means of attaching shoes to your feet that I have given without knowing about the context in which that solution to the problem was developed. Two different children coming up with the same shoe design would be demonstrating different levels of creativity if one of them was replicating a design she had known about previously and the other was generating it for herself 'from scratch'.

As with any human assessment of process there are issues about reliability of judgements. Do we all always interpret "identify and compare creative ideas to think broadly about a given situation or problem" in the same way? Would you and I interpret that in the same way and thus come to the same judgements?

We generally address this issue of reliability through moderation processes, where assessors come together and compare their judgements for a number of examples.

Point of Learning (PoL) takes this one step further, and involves all parties in the learning process in pre-moderation, in the sense of agreeing examples of 'what they would see' if someone were demonstrating that they had achieved a target (e.g. a level for one of the sub-elements in the Australian Curriculum for Creative and critical thinking).

The challenge we face is providing robust evidence that convinces people (e.g. policy makers, employers, parents) that such approaches to assessment are of more use than (paper-based) exams because they stack up better against the criteria for effective assessment than traditional approaches do.

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