Assessment of Creative Problem Solving

There has been a recent shift in the educational mind-set from a more teacher directed approach where the teacher is an information giver; to a more student directed approach that involves a more hands-on project oriented learning style where the student is an information discoverer and creator.  In AnnMarie Thomas’ Edutopia article she touches on the ideas and concepts that are helping facilitate this shift, which is the idea of students not only being consumers of information and knowledge, but also becoming Makers and creators (2012, para 5).  Within this newer educational approach you find enhanced creativity, increased student autonomy, and an increased focus collaborative group-think.  But the issue of assessing individuals in this project-based maker teaching style seems to be where fellow educators are having a difficult time coming to an agreement.

In Grant Wiggins’ blog post, On assessing for creativity: yes you can, and yes you should, he believes it does not have to be so difficult.  Wiggins stated that “Educators sometimes say that they shy from assessing creative thought for fear of inhibiting students” (2012, para 6).  But I too agree with his position that it should not be so difficult.  From my perspective Wiggins is making a point that we should not sell the students short of their potential; that we should encourage students to step outside of their comfort zone in an effort to really make a pedagogical connection.  He further elaborated, “Should we deceive the learner into thinking that their writing is better than it is? Is it right to lie to them about such a basic issue of author purpose and desired result? We don’t have to say “boring” but we should certainly say if the readers were not engaged, shouldn’t we” (2012, para 7)?  It is here that I believe that his main point of being honest with the student opens up doors to student creativity.

As an educator, one method I would utilize to assess creative problem solving during maker-inspired lessons would be to gauge the originality of the product.  In Wiggins’ blog I mentioned earlier he provided a link to his rubric that offers a set of markers that could be used to assess creativity.  The ideas within this rubric speak directly to the originality of a student’s work, such as, “The creation shows great imagination, insight, style, and daring” (2012, para 1).  As a teacher I believe in the importance of students working hard and taking an approach that surpasses mediocrity.  As for Wiggins’ creativity rubric, I believe this is a good foundation for any teacher to make their own and adjust accordingly.

Personally, I see a lot of good that could result from Wiggins approach to assessing students’ products in the classroom.  As teacher responsible for the assessment of student learning, I also believe assessment is just as important as Wiggins explained.  Assessment contains an array of criteria one must adhere to, but most importantly are true comprehension of the topic and understanding of the lesson objective.  Eric Isselhardt explained in his article on creating a school-wide project based learning program the importance of incorporating specific skill set outcomes of a lesson.  His team “saw these steps as critical, as they attached concrete learning goals to any given project” (2013, para 11).  This is the important point where comprehension and understanding falls into the assessment process.  It can be increasingly difficult to assess a student’s progress and understanding in a creative learning environment that involves maker-projects.  A few effective methods to gauge these objectives would be to immerse one’s self into the mix of students and observe progress, engage in conversation with students to gain insight of their current understanding, and encourage peer instruction that inspires collaboration.  With these methods students could then self-assess their own progress and understanding, which according to Wiggins and McTighe’s, Understanding by Design, “provide a conceptual lens through which teachers can better assess student understanding” (1998, para 3).

Looking at the application of these particular methods of assessment is something that I believe can draw out improved understanding and comprehension.  Through the use of collaborative group work, engaged communication with students, as well as a format to gauge creativity an educator may find positive results in the classroom.  As the ideas presented by these professional educators suggest we must think outside the box in regards to assessment to make gains in student creativity and understanding.


Isselhardt, E. (2013, February 13). Creating Schoolwide PBL Aligned to Common Core. Retrieved April 24, 2015, from

Thomas, A. (2012, September 7). Engaging Students in the STEM Classroom Through “Making” Retrieved April 23, 2015, from 

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3). On assessing for creativity: Yes you can, and yes you should.      Retrieved April 23, 2015, from

Wiggins, G. (2012, February 3).  Creative [PDF file].  Available from      and-yes-you-should/

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Authentic Education – What is UbD™? Retrieved April 24,   2015, from


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