Assessing Creative Problem Solving

How should teachers assess students’ creative problem solving skills during maker-inspired lessons? I think this question needs to begin with an understanding of why teachers should be creating such activities in the first place. As described by Gee, our students need to be prepared for the innovative workforce of tomorrow. Jobs are now seeking employees who possess the skills to solve problems in creative and innovative ways and, as teachers, we need to ensure that students are able to handle such situations and demands in their futures.  Therefore, when thinking about how to teach creative problem solving competencies through maker-inspired lessons, teachers need to design their maker-inspired lessons with student assessment at the forefront.

When designing my own maker-inspired lesson, I would plan to assess students’ ability to utilize their curricular knowledge and apply it to the real-life situations presented in the maker lesson.  Before being able to assess, I would need to create a rubric to guide my assessment, outline expectations for students and ignite their creative process. In alignment with Wiggins, when creating my rubrics, I would, “need to be careful to choose the right criteria and multiple and varied exemplars.” I think this was extremely well done throughout the CEP811 course and was extremely helpful for me to learn and create my projects by reviewing provided exemplar works from other students and I have been inspired to use this method in my future lessons. I was inspired by Wiggins’ Creative Rubric and the words that he used to measure student work including: imaginatively, clever, careful, powerful, daring and many more.  If students are presented with a rubric that uses these types of words, they will be much more likely to be inspired themselves and far more creative in their problem solving in a maker lesson.

As described by Isselhardt and implemented at Green Street Academy, I would plan to approach assessment as a facilitator of learning to create a student-led inquiry environment. Throughout the lesson, I would check in with students systematically before, during & after the problem-solving and production process to monitor students’ progress and provide continuous feedback. During these “drop-in” monitor/feedback conversations, I would ask open-ended questions to encourage metacognition, conversation, engagement and reflection.

For example, my questions might include:

  • What is your plan for approaching this project?
  • What are your goals for this project?
  • Why did you make that decision?
  • What steps are you taking to solve this problem?
  • What tools/materials will you be using and why?
  • How are these tools/materials helping you solve this problem or accomplish your goal?
  • Tell me why you’re doing this…
  • Explain to me how you (or your group) came up with this idea or action.
  • How did each of you communicate your ideas? (for collaborative group lessons)
  • What challenges have you encountered?
  • How will you manage that challenge or problem?

I would utilize this monitoring and feedback method in order to increase students’ ability to transfer their learning to future situations, projects, etc. because monitoring and feedback have been identified as integral to successful learning and metacognitive approaches can increase students’ ability to transfer skills to new situations (Bransford, Brown and Cocking, 2000).  My hope would be that this strategy would help build my students’ creative problem solving competence and prepare them to reason and problem solve in future unfamiliar situations.

Once students complete their maker-inspired lesson, I would do a final assessment of their creations and how their creative problem solving skills led to their final product.  With an emphasis on creativity, I would use the rubric I created and shared with students to assess their overall learning.  As part of my final assessment, I would have students present their projects to the class by sharing their planning, problem solving process and reflection of their maker experience.

References:

Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind, experience and school. National Academies Press. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309070368.

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://grantwiggins.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/on-assessing-for-creativity-yes-you-can-and-yes-you-should/

Isslehardt, E. (2013, February 11). Creating Schoolwide PBL Aligned to Common Core [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/PBL-aligned-to-common-core-eric-isslehardt

Gee, J. (2010, July 20). James Paul Gee on Grading with Games. Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JU3pwCD-ey0

 

 

 

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