February 2017
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WHEN CONSISTENCY OF GRADING CREATIVE ANSWERS

Sometimes when I grade assignments,  I really struggle with grading open-ended questions. In order to keep consistency and fairness, I often refer back to the instructor manual to decide the scores and put them into the rubric. In general, the closer the answer to that in the manual, the higher score I give. However, I feel this way to of grading discourages creative thinking.  It is a tragedy if 130 students have the same idea or similar answers for a question, even though the answer may be a common sense to most people. Therefore, I also try to be open to alternative answers and give students some encouragements on doing this. But another problem occurring is that the assessment becomes kind of subjective and depends on my personal preference. For example, how to decide this one is a creative answer, and that one is wrong or irrelevant to the question? Since my judgment cannot be correct all the time, I think grading can be a big challenge in this case.

After reading Making the Grade: The Role of Assessment in Authentic Learning, I understand that “students consider what is important as what is being assessed”. My challenge also affects their learning process, so I have to think about how to improve the assessment procedure. According to this article, a good strategy may be combining peer assessment with my assessment, and the total score can be a weighted average of these two parts.

A reflection on my experience and the reading suggests that educators should be more willing to think about “what if” cases in teaching, writing the learning materials and grading. As maintained in Imagination First, our adults have too much to defense and often prefer consistency instead of surprise. To improve students’ creativity, we should first work on creativity of educators, because their judgments in the assessment affect student behaviors. Another thing comes to my mind is the fact that current assessment often provides little incentive for creative solutions. Suppose a student knows the standard answer and also thinks of an alternative, she might be more likely to use the standard one in an exam because it is safer. As time goes by, this tendency of risk aversion may kills that student’s creativity.  To improve imagination and innovation, we should add bonus points to their creative minds and “risk-taking” behavior in the assessment.

Source: http://www.frsd.k12.nj.us/Page/3671

 

References

  1. Lombardi, Marilyn M. “Making the grade: The role of assessment in authentic learning.” EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (2008).
  2. Liu, Eric, and Scott Noppe-Brandon. Imagination first: Unlocking the power of possibility. John Wiley & Sons, 2009.

 

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