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Development Strategies

Arts Tasks in This Report

Use Authentic Stimuli to Assess Students' Arts Knowledge and Skills

If students are to respond meaningfully to assessment exercises, they must be offered stimuli appropriate to the tasks they are being asked to do. Educational Testing Service staff and members of the Arts Assessment Development Committee chose a wide range of authentic stimuli for students to analyze, interpret, and explore. "Authentic" stimuli are those materials that students would encounter in their studies of the arts in and outside school--for example, paintings, sculptures, films, pieces of music, and dance performances. As required by the NAEP arts framework, these stimuli covered a wide range of genres, cultures, and historical periods.

  • To learn about what students knew about dance, it was important to present dance performance for students to observe and respond to. NAEP used videotapes to present a variety of dance genres from different cultures to students. The dance assessment included, but was not limited to, clips of flamenco dancing, ballroom dancing, ballet, and African dance.

  • To learn about what students knew about music, it was important to present quality musical performance music for students to listen to. NAEP used audiotapes to present musical stimuli to students. The music assessment included, but was not limited to, jazz, rock and roll, medieval music, and Vietnamese traditional music.

  • To learn about what students knew about theatre, it was important to present authentic performances for students to respond to. NAEP used videotapes to present film clips and portions of stage performances to students, and audiotapes to present readings of scripts. The theatre assessment included, but was not limited to, film clips from the movie Jezebel and videotaped clips of the play Our Town.

  • To learn about what students knew about visual arts, it was important to present quality reproductions of artworks. NAEP used museum-quality prints for students to write about and to use as sources of inspiration for creating. (Because three-dimensional works can be appreciated only in limited ways when represented in two dimensions, most exercises asking students to respond to artworks were built around two-dimensional works. Students explored three-dimensional works when asked to create their own sculptures.) The visual arts assessment included, but was not limited to, a collage by Romare Bearden, a work of traditional African art, works of Renaissance and Byzantine art, and works by Jacob Lawrence and Edward Hopper.

NEXT: Strategy 3: Engage Students by Focusing Their Attention


Last updated 7 March 2003 (HM)

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National Center for Education Statistics - http://nces.ed.gov
U.S. Department of Education