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Authentic assessment for creativity_Yeo

  1. 1. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy John Yeo People with the right skills, knowledge, and personal traits, who work through an effective process in an environment that is conducive to creative thought, are more likely to produce creative products – tangible and intangible outcomes that are new and useful. (Puccio, Mance and Murdock, 2011, p.26) INTRODUCTION The Singapore Ministry of Education’s vision of Curriculum 2015 (Ministry of Education, 2010) enumerates a set of broad student learning outcomes centred on 21st century skills and competencies. With Curriculum 2015, there is a heightened interest amongst Singapore teachers to learn more about creativity. Many may associate creativity with definitions such as ‘novelty and usefulness’, ‘being innovative’, ‘thinking out of the box’ and other terms such as ‘problem solving’, ‘brainstorming’, ‘imagination’ and ‘generating new possibilities’. However, not many teachers are confident on how to go about teaching and evaluating for creativity. Indeed, even as people view creativity as a complex and multi-dimensional construct (e.g. Rhodes, 1961; Treffinger, Isaksen & Firestein, 1983), its complexity, nonetheless, does not render it impossible to be assessed (Treffinger, 1995). The call for creative teaching in the local context is renewed while the challenge of assessing creativity remains. Assessment of creativity is highly contentious amongst creativity theorists and stems from how researchers and scholars conceptualise creativity. Esteemed as a desired outcome of the 21st century competency, educators regard creativity as a cognitive skill that is transferable across domains. Although the current modes of assessment have largely been quantitative, the author argues that it is extremely valuable to teach and assess creative thinking skills through using authentic performance tasks. Using authentic tasks can be a meaningful evaluative means to ensure authentic performance to demonstrate students’ understanding of the developmental nature of uncovering their personal, as well as collective, sense of creativity. This proposition is also being supported by emerging research in teacher education that is shifting the constraints of traditional testing towards higher quality performance of demonstrating real-world application of knowledge in alignment to 21st century teaching and learning (Newmann & associates, 1996; Shephard, 2000). Treffinger (2005) described different ways in which he understood creativity: Creativity as the potential for anyone to be able to think of new and useful ideas, to look at a problem in a new way and find an original and workable solution, as well as to use one’s mind in a productive way to generate and apply new ideas. In addition, Noller’s seminal work on the symbolic equation for creativity (Isaksen, Dorval, Treffinger, 1994) C=Fa(KIE)  offers much relevancy to education. She suggested that Creativity (represented by ‘C’) is a function of ‘K’ (i.e. Knowledge), ‘I’ (i.e. Imagination), and ‘E’ (i.e. Evaluation). More importantly, they constitute a function of ‘a’, which represents the need for a positive attitude (p.6). Although Noller clarified that the equation should not be so precise as to define the number of parts of knowledge, imagination and evaluation (Campos, 2000), ‘E’ implies that creativity can be viewed as a measurable dimension of human behaviour. Research further offers different instruments in which theorists utilised other definitions of creativity to design a more concrete approach to evaluate this multi-dimensional concept. With 4 Yeo, J. (2011). Authentic assessment for creativity as a 21st century pedagogy. In K.H. Koh & J.Yeo (Eds.), Mastering the art of authentic assessments: From challenges to champions, 37-54. Singapore: Pearson Education South Asia.
  2. 2. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy       these definitions in mind, the critical question for educators remains, “How can teachers better teach and assess creativity?” This chapter begins by examining one of the domains of the Curriculum 2015 (C2015) vision – Critical and Inventive Thinking. The skills in C2015 evidently allow teachers to nurture “learning environments that foster questioning, patience, openness to fresh ideas, high levels of trust, and learning from mistakes and failures” (Thrilling & Fadel, 2009). The author however questions the readiness of teachers – who were mostly educated in a markedly different learning environment of the past – to embrace and facilitate creative learning in such an inviting and creative manner. While teachers may acknowledge their role to better prepare students for the knowledge-based economy that highly values creativity, teachers yearn for more support in helping them design more authentic assessment tasks that capture important learning goals such as higher-order thinking and subject-specific problem solving skills. In the extensive work with teachers, the author noted that while many claim they know creativity, few understand what it really means to experience a creative learning experience. He asserts that teachers themselves need to first experience creativity – beyond simply acquiring the relevant knowledge and skills, finding their personal ‘Aha’ before they are able to confidently facilitate creativity in their classrooms. He proposes that such a self-discovery experience can well be situated within an in-service course that foregrounds the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) methodology (Puccio, Murdock, & Mance, 2005). The ongoing assessment of the teacher’s ability to apply the repertoire of knowledge on creativity and creative thinking skills to effectively negotiate different complex tasks can be a powerful way for professional learning. Teachers may better appreciate the production of a truly creative idea that may require several iterations between the different generative and exploratory phases of learning. The design of the course and assessment then allows “appropriate opportunities to rehearse, practice, consult resources, and get feedback on and refine performances and products.” (Wiggins, 1998, p.24) CONSIDERING MOE’S CURRICULUM 2015 THROUGH THE LENS OF CREATIVITY Anchoring on Curriculum 2015, one of the desired student outcomes envision that every student needs to embody attributes of an active contributor – one who is able to work effectively in teams, is innovative, exercises initiative, takes calculated risks and strives for excellence. The curriculum shifts to address a global call for equipping and preparing the students as leaders who soon need to contend with problems that are characterized by complexity, novelty and ambiguity (Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Jacobs, & Fleishman, 2000). Mumford et al. offered the suggestion that while complex, novel, ambiguous problems can no longer be solved by routine solutions, individuals need to reshape and rethink their prior knowledge. They further argued that creative problem solving skills are critically important to leadership performance with their resounding conclusion, “the skills involved in creative problem solving influence leader performance” (p.17). Recognising that rapid globalisation, changing demographics and technological advances are fast shaping the future, MOE has identified the domains of Global Awareness and Cross-cultural Skills, Critical and Inventive Thinking as well as Information and Communications Skills to help our students thrive in a fast-changing world. The skills are further explained and described as benchmarks to clearly delineate what students should know and be able to do. Teachers can also better articulate the competencies to be planned, taught and assessed across the curriculum. While not denying how the other skills are closely interwoven to the research on creativity, this chapter focuses primarily on understanding how the domain of Critical and Inventive Thinking (CIT) can be explicated and connected to the teaching and learning of creativity. Developed by MOE (2011), the following are the learning outcomes of CIT which delineate what a student should know and be able to do: (1) generates novel ideas; (2) exercises sound reasoning and reflective thinking to make good decisions; and (3) manages complexities and ambiguities. Table 4.1 lists the specific standards and benchmarks of CIT that provides the ‘how’ for teachers to design their curriculum. Even while standards overlap with many different frameworks that provide greater clarity for 21st century skills, the author proposed that the extent to which creativity plays a role in education could be better clarified across these different frameworks and models. Many of the descriptions demonstrate implicit connections to how teachers may better understand and utilise creativity.
  3. 3. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     The Creative Problem Solving: Thinking Skills model (2005) developed by Puccio, Murdock and Mance is the pedagogical framework with which the Applied Creativity programme anchors upon. The table below further illustrates the comparison of skills between the MOE’s C2015 CIT skills and that of the CPS. It is the author’s analysis that the thinking and affective skills described by Puccio et al. (2005) have close alignment with the standards and benchmarks prescribed by the C2015 vision of CIT skills. Table 4.1: Comparison of the Standards & Benchmarks for MOE’s Critical and Inventive Thinking with Thinking & Affective Skills of Creative Problem Solving Standards and Benchmarks for Critical and Inventive Thinking as 21st Century Competencies Creative Problem Solving Thinking Skills Affective Skills Sound Reasoning and Decision- Making Refers to the development of well - constructed explanations and well substantiated conclusions through analysis, comparison, inference/interpretation, evaluation and synthesis of evidence and arguments. • Extracting implications and conclusions from facts, premises, ethical issues, or data; • Constructing relationships between the essential elements of a problem; and • Challenging social norms to provide alternative theories and explanation. Assessing the Situation: Diagnostic Thinking • Making a careful examination of a situation, describing the nature of a problem and making decisions about appropriate process steps to be taken. Formulating the Challenges: Strategic Thinking • Identifying the critical issues that must be addressed and pathways needed to move toward the desired future. Assessing the Situation: Mindfulness • Attending to thoughts, feelings, and sensations relative to the present situation. Formulating the Challenges: Sensing Gaps • To become consciously aware of discrepancies between what currently exists and is desired or required. Reflective Thinking Refers to the questioning and refining of thoughts, attitudes, behaviour and actions. • Suspending judgment; • Reassessing conclusions and considering alternatives; and • Stepping back to take the larger picture into account. Formulating Solutions: Evaluative Thinking • Assessing the reasonableness and quality of ideas in order to develop workable solutions. Formulating Solutions: Avoiding Premature Closure • Resisting the urge to push for a decision. Curiosity and Creativity Refer to the desire to seek and learn new knowledge; and generate relatively novel and appropriate ideas or new products. • Being resourceful, flexible and adaptable; • Willing to take risks and accept mistakes; and • Having the ability to envisage possible futures. Exploring the Vision: Visionary Thinking • Articulating a vivid and concrete image of what you desire to create. Exploring Ideas: Ideational Thinking • Producing original mental images and thoughts that respond to important challenges or opportunities. Exploring the Vision: Dreaming • To imagine as possible your desires and hopes. Exploring Ideas: Playfulness • Freely toying with ideas. Openness To Novelty* • Ability to entertain ideas that at first seem outlandish and risky. Managing Complexities and Ambiguities Refers to the modification of thinking, attitudes, behaviour Exploring Acceptance: Contextual Thinking • Understanding the interrelated conditions and Exploring Acceptance: Sensitivity To Environment • The degree to which people are aware of their physical
  4. 4. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy       and/or skills to adapt to diverse demands and challenges in new, unfamiliar contexts. • Tolerating ambiguity; • Considering and accepting alternative perspectives, solutions or methods; • Taking on diverse roles; • Multi-tasking; and • Being resilient and focused on pursuing goals despite difficulties and unexpected complications. circumstances that will support or hinder success. Formulating a Plan: Tactical Thinking • Devising a plan that includes specific and measurable steps for attaining a desired end and methods for monitoring its effectiveness. and psychological surroundings. Formulating a Plan: Tolerance For Risks • Not allowing oneself to be shaken or unnerved by the possibility of failure or setbacks. Tolerance For Ambiguity* • To be able to deal with uncertainty and to avoid leaping to conclusions. Tolerance For Complexity* • Ability to stay open and persevere without being overwhelmed by large amounts of information, interrelated and complex issues, and competing perspectives. SOURCE: Ministry of Education (April, 2011) SOURCE: Puccio, Murdock, & Mance (2011). Note: *Affective skills that underlie all steps of CPS: Openness to novelty, tolerance for ambiguity and tolerance for complexity. With all the broad-based curriculum reform towards fostering creativity system-wide since the early days of Thinking Schools, Learning Nation, it is timely to analyse how such initiatives have helped our students think more creatively. It is also pivotal to study if teachers are more knowledgeable about creativity and as a result, better equipped to plan, teach, and assess creative thinking. These concerns need to be addressed in order to better foster a more sustainable creative and reflective learning experience for our students and teachers. With the overarching goals of C2015, teachers have the right to further challenge what creative teaching is. How might they evaluate whether their attempts of creative teaching have had effected to student learning that is more engaging and effective? The changing demands of the curriculum may also cause teachers to feel an emerging tension. With efforts to improve teachers’ assessment literacies, what then are some new thoughts on assessment for some of the 21st century competencies, such as inventive thinking? How would these impact the design, structure and organisation of examination and assessments? On one hand, most teachers recognise that alternative assessments will enhance the quality of learning. Yet on the other hand, teachers do concede that facilitating for new pedagogies will influence their own learning and practice – which in essence, is not always easy or convenient. TENSIONS OF FACILITATING CREATIVITY IN THE CLASSROOM From the author’s experience with conducting workshops on facilitation, he asserts that the way teachers act and the consequences they create, begins with the way they think. In the field of facilitation, he is mindful that most teachers’ espoused theory of what they understand as good teaching and facilitation may be inconsistent with their actual practices as reflected by their theories-in-use. The author observed that during difficult situations in class (for example, dealing with students’ misbehaviour, reluctance to participate in group work or managing students’ conflicts), many teachers, unfortunately, think in ways that lead them to take actions that could create negative consequences detrimental to the creative learning process. Schwarz et al. (2005, p.36) described this behaviour as a unilateral control model whereby teachers demonstrate values and assumptions used in difficult situations that often result in undermining their own, as well as their students’ effectiveness in learning. More specifically, with respect to the facilitating for idea generation – a very important component in creative problem solving, most teachers do acknowledge that students have a strong preference for learning creatively. Teachers recognise
  5. 5. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     that students may learn a great deal while enjoying the cooperative learning process in groups, if given the opportunity to use their creative thinking abilities. While assessment remains the ‘top-of- mind’ of most educational agendas, many become warily resistant towards ‘free play’ during ideation and this could inhibit wild imagination if they have little certainty in how this may improve students’ grades. Inevitably, some resort to over-controlling the brainstorming process that kills students’ creativity and dampens their motivation for learning. Schwarz et al. (p.41) contrasted the above type of behaviour with that of the mutual learning model. In this mutual learning model, high quality results and productive relationships begin with the way teachers themselves re- perceive their roles as facilitators before quality learning and co-creation of knowledge can take place in the classroom. This may account for why teachers are perhaps more comfortable evaluating the product (performance, reflection essay or proposal, model, oral presentation, etc.). In the spirit of ‘Teach Less, Learn More’, the author questions if this underlying dilemma of teachers’ core values and assumptions needs to first be addressed in order to ensure that learning – both for teachers as well as students – can be more rewarding. During in-service training sessions on facilitation for teachers, the author has often encountered teachers who experience ‘mental blocks’ in their own facilitation of creative thinking. Clinical interviews with selected teachers from different schools revealed that most teachers knew the importance of staying open to ambiguity while staying true to the concept of divergent-convergent thinking. However, actual facilitation made them realise that at times it could be more difficult to practice the ideal. On reflection, most teachers found that they would either ‘kill’ seemingly-wild or ridiculous ideas generated, at the first instant, or simply stop the ideation process at the first idea that appears to be satisfactory. While some may enjoy supporting students’ during the ideation process, others worry that the free-wheeling and novelty-seeking may run ‘out of control’. While some admittedly recognised the challenge of making new connections during the ideation phase, others lamented that they often struggle to encourage students’ flexible thinking and cross- fertilisation of ideas. In addition, some teachers will intentionally ‘cut-short’ the necessary divergence of ideas and quickly lead students towards converging for more logical or workable solutions. With the above concerns, the author then wonders how equipped and competent are teachers in facilitating the creative process? Despite the earlier tensions described, wouldn’t it be great if they too could taste the rewarding experience of seeing a truly innovative solution emerge? In addition, Sternberg (1999) also questioned the processes through which existing prior knowledge can be used to produce creative knowledge. In the attainment of creativity, he proposed that one might experience conceptual replication (where the known is transferred to new settings), redefinition (where the known seen in a new light), incrementation (where the known is extended), redirection, reconstruction and re-initiation. With the above, it indicates that for teachers themselves to enjoy the creative process, they need to experience too the last level of re-initiation that involves something quite new, unlike the earlier levels that somewhat modify the present. Furthermore, the complexities of evaluating the creative process in tandem with assessing the final product may not be as easy. Teachers acknowledge the challenge of designing an engaging and effective facilitation process and research also informs that such instructive roles of teachers need be carefully reconsidered to better support students’ creative functioning. Teachers work hard to help students fulfil the standards for descriptors pertaining to students’ ideas, such as ‘insightful and/or innovative’, ‘well-supported’, ‘thoroughly analysed and evaluated’, and ‘organized coherently’. Realistically, how comfortable are they to facilitate with Schwarz’s mutual learning model that still encourages students to formulate new meanings and with the autonomy for creative thinking – to suggest and implement useful innovative changes? It once again begs the question of ‘how can creativity be taught and assessed’? In conclusion, as Alvin Toffler wisely summed up, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Creativity remains as a vital heartbeat of new educational process of “learning how to learn”. Going forward, how can teachers themselves embody attributes such as having sound reasoning and decision- making, practicing reflective thinking, inspiring curiosity and creativity, as well as effectively managing complexities and navigating ambiguities? If we expect teachers to encourage students to participate in the creation of knowledge from authentic learning, how then, can the teachers themselves not experience the creative self-discovery process? The author therefore proposes that authentic performance tasks be meaningfully integrated to evaluate students’ performance that demonstrate quality learning of the various desired outcomes as defined by the set of 21st century skill competencies as outlined in MOE’s Curriculum 2015.
  6. 6. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy       DESIGN OF A CREATIVE PEDAGOGY USING CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING This section focuses on the design of a professional learning programme for teachers that primarily aims to help teachers deepen their understanding of the Creative Problem Solving process before situating creativity within the curriculum. Centred largely on an experiential approach, teachers will reflect and examine the impact on pedagogy and assessment of creativity in the field of education. The three authentic tasks of this experiential approach employ evaluation methods “directed at the demonstration of competence in real-world problems” (Posner, 2004, p.202). The teacher first takes on the role as a participant before learning to be a facilitator of the Creative Problem Solving process. The author believes that learning becomes most authentic when assessment is embedded in the participants’ own doing, thinking and reflecting on their self- discovery process – one which allows the participants to begin charting their own creative journey. This programme is designed to help educators learn to document creative growth, learning and achievements in new ways through use of authentic performance tasks. Each of the tasks typically provide evidence of one’s understanding and ability to use or apply what one has learned. Incrementally more challenging, each performance task also heightens the reflections concerning the meta-cognitive component of instruction. The meta-cognitive dimensions of the authentic assessment may include the participants’ reasons for their choice of strategies and thinking tools, explanations of their planning and actions as perceived by the participant and/or the group members, and their perceived changes in thought, feelings, and action during the in-class and extended out-of-class learning. The deliberation of each task therefore provides space to allow them to create new benchmark for future goals and efforts. Participants are encouraged to dive into unresolved questions and challenges surrounding creativity, especially in relation to outcomes as complex and varied as problem solving. Treffinger (1987, cited in Treffinger, 1995) noted that with a growing emphasis on the importance of creativity and thinking skills in education, the lack of systematic efforts to measure creativity and problem solving remains as a common challenge. It is not the intention of this programme to provide specific instruments to address the above challenge (refer to Appendix 4.1). But the programme does provide for a learning space to use alternative assessment to draw participants deeper into their own ways of understanding creativity. The planning of authentic tasks is therefore intentionally designed to align with most of Treffinger’s (1987) eight roles for creativity assessment. The roles of creativity assessment include: 1. Helping to recognise and affirm the strengths and talents of individuals and enabling people to know and better understand themselves; 2. Expanding and enhancing understanding of the nature of human abilities and giftedness; 3. Providing ‘baseline’ data for assessing individuals or groups, guiding teachers in planning and conducting appropriate and challenging instruction; 4. Providing pre-test and post-test data for group comparisons for research or evaluation; 5. Helping the instructor/facilitator discover unrecognised or untapped talent resources; 6. Providing a common language for communication among teachers about the nature of creative abilities and skills; 7. Helping to remove creativity from the realm of mystery and superstition; and 8. Providing operational constructs to help advance theory and research on creativity. As discussed, the Creative Problem Solving: Thinking Skills model takes centre stage in the design of this programme (see Figure 4.1). Puccio et al. (2011) studied that the CPS process has been refined for years and has been the subject of many research studies since its introduction by Alex Osborn more than 50 years ago. There are alternative conceptions of this creative process in use given the extent to which CPS has been widely expanded (see Basadur, 1994; Isaksen, Dorval, & Treffinger, 1994, 2000; Miller, Behar, & Firestien, 2001; Parnes, 2004). The Thinking Skills model is the first to articulate specific thinking skills associated with each step of the process. Along with these thinking skills, some affective skills are also described to support the thinking skill associated with each step (see Table 4.1).
  7. 7. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     SOURCE: Puccio, Murdock and Mance (2006). Figure 4.1: Purpose of the Steps in Creative Problem Solving: The Thinking Skills model AUTHENTIC PERFORMANCE TASK CONSIDERATIONS Fundamentally, good educative assessment practice should help teachers as participants experience the rich learning while working on the authentic task with ongoing constructive feedback (Wiggins, 1998, p.21). The author suggests that for a professional learning programme on creativity, authentic performance tasks would provide more situated opportunities for teachers to integrate theories on creativity and practice. The choice of using authentic performance in this course helps participants themselves to focus on the authentic tasks while they enjoy a process of self-directed learning with “valid direction, intellectual coherence, and motivation” (p.21). Wiggins (1998) offers the following three standards to ensure that authenticity is achieved in performance tasks. Firstly, task needs to be realistic. In this course, the participants need to be realistic in terms of the learning goals with the expectation that they need to apply what is learnt through planning, facilitating and reflecting. The realism of the task is further set when participants need to lead others to clarify their purpose while helping them to become clearer of their own creative thinking as well as emotions. Secondly, the task designed requires judgement and innovation. The participants are required to use the knowledge and skills to effectively solve the ‘unstructured’ problem. While CPS offers a directive map for guiding the facilitation process, the problem scenario is an open challenge decided and owned by the participants themselves. The challenge of managing group dynamics, facilitating others into focused conversation and leading the rest to jointly decide on next steps are critical learning points of this programme. Thirdly, the ‘doing’ of the subject (i.e. facilitation of creative thinking) is demonstrated as the knowledge of facilitating for creative thinking is not only done during the programme, but further applied to their own classroom context to improve future ‘performance’. It was earlier discussed that the application of creative thinking might not be a comfortable learning process. While teachers are stretched to ‘think out of the box’, the ongoing feedback to the teachers’ creative learning process will support assessment as learning (p. 21). In light of feedback coupled with distributed learning within group planning and evaluation, the process may significantly increase teachers’ capacity for reflective practice. Clearly, this may help teachers ASSESSING THE SITUATION: To describe and identify relevant data and to determine next process step EXPLORING THE VISION: To develop a vision of a desired outcome FORMULATING THE CHALLENGES: To identify the gaps that must be closed to achieve the desired outcome EXPLORING IDEAS: To generate novel ideas that address significant gaps/ challenges FORMULATING SOLUTIONS: To move from ideas to solutions EXPLORING ACCEPTANCE: To increase likelihood of success by testing solutions FORMULATING A PLAN: To develop an implementation plan
  8. 8. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy       themselves to first understand and internalise the reflective thinking standards within the Critical and Inventive thinking skills of C2015 for students. Figure 4.2: Instructional schema of the Applied Creativity programme While this programme is largely experiential in nature, it is designed with the intention of leveraging on Illeris’s (2003) three interrelated dimensions of learning – cognitive, emotional and social. Through the cognitive dimension, knowledge, skills, understanding, meaning and functionality are developed. Through the emotional dimension, patterns of emotion and motivation, attitudes, sensitivity and mental balance are developed. Through the social dimension, potential for empathy, communication, and co-creation are developed. For these reasons, the assessment tasks in this programme are mostly open-ended. Teachers need to design for creative concepts both individually, and on a group level, allowing for distributed learning. In the course evaluation of past cohorts, the author found that teachers gave high interest ratings as many noted that the tasks made them think hard and required them to actively participate in learning together. PRE-COURSE ACTIVITY: HEIGHTENING SELF-AWARENESS Treffinger (1995) proposed that the assessment of creativity needs to be regarded as an attempt to recognise or identify creative characteristics or abilities among people, or to understand the creative strengths and potentials of individuals. In order to teach about creativity or teach more creatively, one needs to first experience and question his personal beliefs and knowledge of what it means to learn creatively. Teacher participants are first invited to take an online Emergenetics™ profiling instrument whereby a personal narrative report is generated for the individual that explains his/her thinking and behavioural preference as compared to the general population. The profiles will then be printed and distributed during the early part of the course. What does it mean to be creative? The author argues that Emergenetics™ can be a useful way to support the discovering of personal creativity. From the experience of previous classes, the exploratory nature of understanding the profile coupled with the post-profiling facilitation help participants to appreciate their unique way of connecting with the world. In addition, the facilitated activities further heighten teachers’ sensitivity to how they have been using their own creative strengths as well as providing a rationale of some of their personal and professional challenges. As a starting point for the creativity course, participants have found Emergenetics™ to be a helpful way to more closely examine how one can be creative with the attributes matched to accurately describe one. Interestingly, amongst the four distinct thinking attributes (Analytical, Structural, Social and Conceptual) the age-old misconception that only those with a preference for Conceptual thinking are creative, or at least, more creative, never fails to surface. During the facilitated workshop, participants will reflect and recognise that people with different profiles approach the same creative task differently; each bringing with them a novel way of thinking that serves a unique purpose. This understanding of one’s unique sense of creativity is critical to better serve the goals of this programme as it helps to sharpen how one better experiences personal and social creativity. It further links and taps into all aspects of creative endeavours while consolidating the learning and highlighting what matters to produce a creative product, individually and collectively. The secondary purpose of profiling with Emergenetics™ is to allow the tutor to generate different Whole Emergenetics team (WEteam™) grouping. The WEteam™ distributes participants into heterogeneous groups of different combinations of thinking and behavioural preferences. Pre-­‐course  ac+vity:   Heightening  Self-­‐ Awareness   Authen+c  Task  1:   Group  Evalua+on  of   CPS  Facilita+on   Authen+c  Task  2:   Individual  facilita+on   using  the  CPS  process   Authen+c  Task  3:   Adopt  a  Thinking  Tool   for  Lesson  Planning  
  9. 9. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     Participants will recognise the educational value of working with diverse preferences, throughout the course. The most immediate implications on why the current way of testing for students’ ability to collaborate by the equal distribution of workload in groups is often a futile assessment practice. Many in their reflections acknowledge that student interactions can take place more meaningfully if they are first encouraged to trust and appreciate their own thinking and behavioural preferences with no unnecessary casting of negative stereotypes. Group learning, then, using new curricular materials and assessment instruments would be more meaningful if they provide opportunities for planned creative learning experiences. These procedures permit one’s learning to lead to more, making creative thinking systematic from both the teachers’ perspectives and that of the students’ – legitimate and rewarding. Figure 4.3: Sample of Emergenetics™ profile (Used with permission) While this piece of narrative reflection is ungraded, it provides a space for teachers to heighten anticipation in preparation for the course. Upon a deeper examination of one’s personal beliefs and values regarding what is creative, the narrative provides an opportunity to ask two essential questions: what does it mean to be creative? How does the Emergenetics™ profile help me better appreciate my personal creativity? For an application to a classroom context, Treffinger (1995) proposed that analysing qualitative data as part of the creativity assessment efforts is a process that needs to consider relevant context issues, possible biases and values while discerning the meaning of information. While creative assessment might be regarded as a way to identify creative abilities or to understand one’s creative strengths and potentials, the more critical questions concerned with creative assessment in support of this activity would be: How might teachers better foster creative dispositions in class leveraging on each child’s preference for learning? What are some evident advantages for getting students to collaborate in heterogeneous groups?
  10. 10. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy       AUTHENTIC TASK 1: GROUP EVALUATION FOR CPS FACILITATION Posner (2004, p.181) purports that “All knowledge is in a sense social.” While learning is essentially distributed, participants with a shared goal and different learning styles, interest and experience can benefit from collaborative learning. This WEteams™ approach was found to be particularly useful as teachers were able to bring together their different understanding and at the same time, to design a meaningful and focused facilitation to apply their learning. After forming WEteams™, the groups then select a thinking tool to design the facilitation process in their in-class experience. As part of the post-facilitation evaluation, each WEteam™ would write up their general reactions from the class as well as the group’s debrief. In addition, teams are encouraged to reflect and evaluate not only on the planning process which should include both the cognitive as well as the affective aspects of the facilitation experience, but to also assess their abilities to help other teams generate creative ideas around a given topic. Besides identifying some of the critical concerns they faced during the facilitation process, they are encouraged to brainstorm for solutions and make associations to how they can apply the tool in their classroom practice. Considerations may include finding instructional opportunities with using various thinking tools as part of differentiated instruction strategy or any other pedagogical applications. In addition, the teams bring into their groups’ evaluation by working collaboratively as a WEteam™. Ward (2007) raised an interesting assumption that creativity is a result of the interactive combination of knowledge, intellectual skills, thinking style, personality, motivation and the environment. This is very relevant to one of the tenets for assessment for learning, whereby teachers play an important role in providing timely feedback. In the classroom context, teachers need to model the ability to closely observe creativity-in-action in order to foster greater creativity in the classroom. Ward (2007, p.xix) further proposed that applied creativity in an authentic context could offer at least three benefits. Firstly, while teachers learn to adopt more creative approaches towards learning, they may also better model such approaches for students. In relation to designing authentic tasks for students, if teachers themselves experience the factors that provoked or inhibited their personal creativity, the more competent they will be to help students overcome blocks and pursue creative learning opportunities. In addition, Tan and Wong (2007, p.494) recognised that the experience could heighten teachers’ appreciation of their own roles as a facilitator of learner, rather than being the ‘sole provider’ of knowledge. This may imply that teachers can better design for a more effective learning environment for the students. AUTHENTIC TASK 2: INDIVIDUAL FACILITATION USING THE CPS PROCESS To deepen the self-exploratory creative experience, this is an individual assignment that requires the teacher to facilitate a full CPS process with any selected group of ‘safe-group’ participants (i.e. students, colleagues, or friends). One of the goals of this programme is to enhance teachers’ confidence in applying various creative thinking tools while engaging in the iterative process of the Dynamic Balance concept of divergence and convergence thinking using CPS. Assessment of creative thinking cannot simply be a one-off activity. In particular for facilitation, extended practice with a different context, challenges and audience, will help the teacher to gain new levels of understanding. The facilitation skills of the teacher-facilitator largely depend on his/her ability to help the group to be able to propose a creative (i.e. novel and useful) action plan. The teacher- facilitator need not be the content expert. However, as the process driver, he/she should seek to help the group build an awareness of relevant theories, social structures, systems and policies that surround social or environmental issues. Dewey purportedly claimed that education ought to address social issues and “enhance [the student’s] social insight and interest” so as they may be able to contribute to and improve society” (Dewey, 1916, p.225, cited in Cremin, 1961, p.125). Another goal of this task is for the teacher-facilitator to deepen his/her awareness of diversity of learning preferences while helping the group to appreciate different perspectives and values of the individual members in the midst of clarifying issues pertaining to their selected topic for deliberation using the Creative Problem Solving. This individual assessment is rubric-based and each assessment criterion may carry equal weight (Appendix 4.2). While the major flaw in many current measurements of creativity is that most are
  11. 11. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     often uni-dimensional and tend to focus on a single aspect of the creative process, the criteria are broad and allow for teacher-facilitator to display his/her understanding of CPS and facilitation skills. It is useful to include criteria that relates to the testing of divergent thinking – fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration (Torrance, 1972). The teacher-facilitator will then be assessed based on his/her performance with the products of the CPS facilitation process delivered. Table 4.2 provides more explanation of the assessment criteria with suggested considerations for assessing the facilitation. Table 4.2: Assessment Criteria Assessment Criteria Questions for Facilitation Diagnosis of challenge: Project task is carefully examined with participants acquiring accurate understanding of relevant data and able to identify salient points and insights. Did the teacher-facilitator ü Use diagnostic thinking tools to help participants focus on a community / environment-related project that require some novel thinking? ü Facilitate the identification and clarification of their choice showing an understanding of the intricacies and complexities of the challenge they will work with? Generation of ideas: Ideas are insightful and innovative. With the careful selection of appropriate divergent thinking tools, did the teacher-facilitator help the group to generate rich and diverse ideas? Assess the idea generation outcome using the following considerations: ü Fluency: Ability to produce many ideas for an open-ended problem or question; ü Flexibility: Ability to take different approaches to a problem, think of ideas in different categories, or view a problem from different perspectives; ü Originality: Uniqueness, non-conformity in thought and action; ü Elaboration: Number of different ideas used in working out the details of an idea. Analysis of ideas: Main ideas are well-supported by relevant details and examples. Ideas are thoroughly analysed and evaluated. In the process of identify the specific project, had the teacher-facilitator helped participants justify or defend their choices with relevant information using the thinking tools of CPS? While facilitating participants’ planning process, was the teacher-facilitator mindfully helping participants stay on task and work towards fulfilling the objective/s they have decided upon? Well-designed action plan: Ideas are presented and organised coherently. Did the teacher-facilitator help the group to create an appealing proposal that is reader-friendly, comprehensive, well-organized and coherent? AUTHENTIC TASK 3: ADOPT-A-THINKING TOOL FOR LESSON PLANNING
  12. 12. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy       While Authentic Task 2 provides assessment for learning to help teachers gain confidence with the CPS process and tools, Task 3 assesses the teacher’s ability to design a meaningful lesson that delivers quality outcome of the CPS process. This performance task consists of two parts: lesson analysis and lesson design to heighten creative learning. Teachers are required to craft a lesson plan in their subject area using one or two of the thinking tools in this course. Appendix 4.3 offers the assessment rubrics for this creative lesson-planning task. Teachers are provided with the following guiding questions: a. Identify challenges in teaching a specific lesson. If you have taught this lesson before, what are some past experiences you faced? If this is a new lesson, what are some challenges you might anticipate? b. What are the thinking tool(s) that might help you to teach this lesson unit more creatively? Explain why the selected tool is a good fit for the lesson activity (particularly on how this tool will bring about more effective and/or engaged learning). c. Give an outline of this lesson that would be aligned to help you teach more creatively. Propose the learning outcome or overview of scope & sequence of activities and how you would anticipate your students learn more creatively with a deeper understanding of the lesson. REFLECTIONS ON THE CHALLENGES This in-service professional learning course is recommended to be at least 25 hours. It is also intentionally designed to take teachers away the hassle and bustle of school life in order to experience and incubate on their learning process. Collaboratively, teachers immersed in this programme learn in a physical and psychological conducive environment designed for productive social interactions allowing teachers to experience their exploration for breakthrough solutions in a ‘protected’ setting. To heighten the creative engagement, special attention needs to be given to Ekvall’s (1996) 10 creative climate dimensions: challenge and involvement, freedom, idea time, idea support, trust and openness, playfulness and humour, debates whereby viewpoints and ideas are appropriately challenged, low conflicts whereby little or no presence of interpersonal tension, risk-taking, and dynamism. This course is designed with the practitioner in mind. It is largely focused on the instruction and facilitation of CPS, although the author is of the opinion that it would be ideal for participants to also gain a deeper understanding in the theories of creativity. Given the constraints of time, theoretical content coverage is significantly reduced; however, aspects of curriculum design will be discussed while teachers are encouraged to seek more in-depth application back in the classroom. Participants are constantly reminded that the course is designed to support a more informed practice of enhancing and facilitating for creativity. While active inquiry requiring more in-depth exploration by each WEteam™ is expected, aspects such as creative pedagogies, subject/domain specific pedagogical content knowledge will be discussed during the course of learning. More critically, the focus will be for teachers to experience and collaboratively construct their understanding of creative learning, which is domain-general within the shared learning space. From past courses conducted, participants appreciate the learning space to synthesize and connect throughout the course. That being said, the author is of the opinion that the Professional Learning Community in schools might offer a similarly rich opportunity for more in-depth and authentic ‘tinkering’. While this course aims to help teachers confront and challenge some epistemological assumptions underlying their beliefs on creativity, the sustainability of the learning depends much on the teachers’ motivation and will to continue practicing creativity. The authentic assessment engages teams to collaborate in safe learning environment during Tasks 1 and 2. Ongoing feedback is provided during discussion on how one might circumvent facilitation challenges, while not compromising the quality of creative learning. Being iterative in nature, teams continue to brainstorm with other thinking tools to search for alternative solutions to some of the common challenges faced. In essence, to be a skilful facilitator of creativity in the classroom, one needs to constantly practice and reflect on the teaching and learning experience.
  13. 13. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     CONCLUSION Assessment that is centred on 21st century competencies needs to ensure that learning is multi- dimensional. When teachers themselves experience the programme and get a more nuanced understanding of what creativity is, they may then better explore ways they can assess students’ creative learning. This chapter illustrates how they can better design assessment tasks that provide for reflections that are deeper and more progressively organised. In addition, teachers can learn to plan their instruction with greater confidence so that both the lesson objectives in teaching for creativity, as well as assessment imperatives, can be realised. Chong Lin Lin, a graduate of NIE’s Management and Leadership Studies (January 2011) noted: In the heartbeat of CPS, one learns to generate many varied and unusual options while focusing your ideas constructively. In my view, CPS is a very powerful tool because it consists of both creative thinking and critical thinking. The above quote is testimony from a teacher who thinks highly of CPS tools as a good and powerful tool for developing skills in creativity and critical thinking if the teacher designs the performance tasks to allow such skills to be practised. While teachers aspire to be more creative in class and to begin assessing for creativity, they need to take into consideration that the assessment of 21st century competencies is multi-dimensional. A well-designed assessment task requires teachers to be convinced of how they may scaffold students’ learning towards enjoying the process of learning while being fully conscious that their creative efforts can be reliably assessed. To conclude, this chapter has laid the groundwork for authentic assessments proposed for teachers to experience creativity. Attempts should be made to extend more alternative assessments to further support teachers’ own understanding of integrating creative teaching into their respective subject areas. In this regard, more work can be done on the identification of appropriate ways to assess artefacts of the creative problem solving process with an increased mastery of CPS tools and more skilful facilitation experience using CPS. In the long run, the author suggests that when teachers are more cognizant of their own beliefs around creativity, they themselves can become skilled gatekeepers of a curriculum that best prepares the next generation with the creative thinking skills needed in the 21st century.  
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  17. 17. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     Appendix 4.1 Applied Creative Problem Solving: Cognitive Tools for Creativity Course Overview   Course Outline This programme is designed to be a one-week in-service training programme for educators. While the course aims to provide an overview of the Creative Problem Solving (CPS) model with its basic principles, components, stages, phases and tools, it also introduces Rhode’s (1961) 4 Ps as an organising framework for studying and applying creativity and CPS. Teachers would learn to understand their own thinking and behavioural attributes through a personal profiling instrument. This understanding will help participants appreciate the three building blocks of CPS: Explore the Challenge, Generate Ideas, Prepare for Action. The most recent development of the CPS model – Creative Problem Solving: The Thinking Skills model – approaches CPS as a framework for teaching thinking; that is, each step of the process is designed to engage a different thinking skill. By describing CPS as a framework that engages thinking, we are now able to draw into the CPS model a diverse array of tools from such fields as quality improvement, strategic management and decision-making. The purpose of this course is to introduce participants to tools that engage the following forms of thinking: diagnostic, visionary, strategic, ideational, evaluative, contextual, and tactical, so you can gain insight into your areas of strength and opportunities for further development with respect to your thinking and problem-solving skills. Course Objectives By the end of the course, teachers will be able to: o appreciate thinking skills with a diverse set of problem solving, decision- making and creativity tools; o apply a variety of creative thinking tools to design more innovative processes and products; o expand their application of CPS to leading for more effective collaboration between students; and o apply the Creative Problem Solving: Thinking Skills model to assess learning needs and to plan appropriate teaching interventions as a teacher.
  18. 18. Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy       Appendix 4.2 Assessment Rubrics for Individual Facilitation of a CPS process (Authentic Task 2) Levels of Performance Exemplary Proficient Developing Diagnosis of challenge: Project task is carefully examined; accurate understanding of relevant data and able to identify salient points and insights. Highly effective use of diagnostic thinking tools to help participants gain good understanding of the intricacies and complexities of the challenge. Fairly effective use of diagnostic thinking tools to help participants gain some understanding of the intricacies and complexities of the challenge of the scope. Fairly effective use of diagnostic thinking tools to help participants gain some basic understanding of the challenge. Generation of ideas: Ideas are insightful and innovative. Excellent facilitation of divergent thinking tools that helped the participants to generate rich and diverse ideas divergent thinking (i.e., fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration). Fairly effective facilitation of divergent thinking tools that helped the participants to generate adequate number of qualities ideas for divergent thinking (i.e., fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration). Inconsistent facilitation of divergent thinking tools that helped the participants to generate some useful ideas for divergent thinking (i.e., fluency, flexibility, originality and elaboration). Analysis of ideas: Main ideas are well- supported by relevant details and examples. Ideas are thoroughly analysed and evaluated. Excellent facilitation of convergent thinking tools that helped the participants to stay focus and apply affirmative judgment while keeping novelty alive with objectives in mind most of the time. Fairly effective facilitation of convergent thinking tools that helped the participants to stay focus and /or apply affirmative judgment while at times struggle with keeping the novelty alive and/or objectives in mind. Inconsistent facilitation of convergent thinking tools that might have helped the participants to stay focus but process of useful convergence appeared to be challenging particularly with keeping novelty alive. Well-designed action plan: Ideas are presented and organized coherently. Participants were able to devise a refined solution plan that is relevant and innovative and well organized in actionable steps. Participants were able to devise a solution plan that is relevant and/or innovative with some broad actionable steps. Participants were able to concur with some broad directions for further refinement into a feasible action plan. Criterion
  19. 19. Experiencing Authentic Assessment for Creativity as a 21st Century Pedagogy     1 9 1 9 1 9 Appendix 4.3 Assessment Rubrics for Creative Lesson Plan (Authentic Task 3) Rationale for Lesson Design Use of Creative Thinking Tool/s Coherence of Lesson Plan Outstanding (A) Convincing and well supported design rationale for creative teaching. Addresses context of the lesson cohesively. Good selection and exceptional connection between the creative thinking tool/s and address curriculum gap. Provides rich opportunity for students to construct, create, design new knowledge either individually, or collaboratively. Viable and interesting lesson plan. Innovative approach designed with keen consideration of the flow of activities, tasks that promotes Assessment for Learning. Merit (B) Clear shifts in the curriculum to align creative teaching elements and strong lesson plan. Good understanding of creative thinking tool/s and offer good fit to address curriculum gap. Provides sufficient opportunity for students to construct, create, design new knowledge either individually, or collaboratively. Workable lesson plan with clear intended outcomes to support creative learning. Satisfactory (C) Curriculum intervention measures at surface level. Superficial understanding of creative thinking tool/s. Provides minimal opportunity for students to engage in complex creative thinking and actions. Basic lesson plan with some student-centric learning activities.