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Development Strategies

Arts Tasks in This Report

Allowing students to choose in an assessment context

Because creative freedom is central to the arts, it was tempting to allow students to choose, for example, themes for dances or subjects for drawings.

Whenever possible, choice was allowed. For example:

  • For visual arts creating tasks, students were always given two or three drawing tools and told they could use their tools in any ways they chose.
  • When asked to create three-dimensional works of visual art, students were given sketching and planning time but were not required to base their final works on their sketches.
  • When students were asked to create dances, genre or style was never specified.
  • When students were asked to improvise in theatre, how aspects of character and situation were to be portrayed were left up to the students.
  • For some music tasks, students were asked to bring in and play the instruments with which they were most comfortable.

However, as a general rule, choice was limited. Students were not given the option of choosing the problems they wanted to solve. For example, when they were asked to draw, their drawings were to focus on a particular theme or subject and demonstrate some specified skills. When asked to improvise music, students were given the type of music they were to improvise with.

Why was choice limited? Although it might seem fairer to allow students choice, they may not always choose to their advantage given their knowledge and skills. Further, given limited assessment time, it was important to get students working, rather than have them spend a large amount of time wrestling with what to create or perform. Finally, it would have been far more difficult to compare student responses for scoring purposes had the students been given too many choices of theme or subject or tool.

BACK TO: Strategy 5: Encourage Students to Be Creative


Last updated 7 March 2003 (HM)

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