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Development Strategies

Arts Tasks in This Report

Examples of Engaging, Authentic, and Standardizable Tasks

Below are some examples of how arts tasks were made open and engaging enough to allow students to use their creative abilities, and were structured enough to yield meaningful responses that could be fairly scored.

  • In a dance creating and performing task students were asked to create and perform a dance built around the theme of metamorphosis: changing from one form to another. Students were told they needed to incorporate two different shapes, levels, and movement types into their dances. The task was further structured for students by specifying the amounts of time allowed for creating and practicing the dance.
  • Within this structure, students were free to:

    • work with their partners in any way they chose;
    • create dances of any genre or style as long as they incorporated the criteria; and
    • experiment with any idea of metamorphosis they chose.

    Giving students a theme to focus on and clear criteria to include in their dances gave them a useful structure within which their imaginations could have play. This prevented students from floundering for a starting point and compromising their abilities to respond to the task. It also ensured that student dances, even if they represented different dance styles, would be clear and comparable enough to score fairly. Finally, timing different stages of activity kept students focused and engaged, and also ensured that all students in the sample would have the same opportunities for creating and performing.

    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.

    (How student dances were scored to take into account expressive abilities will be examined in Part III of this report.)

  • Many exercises asking students to respond to works of dance, music, theatre, and visual arts pushed beyond asking about technical characteristics of works or their historical contexts. These exercises encouraged students to explore their own interpretations of works and the expressive qualities of those works. To elicit clear responses and ensure that student responses could be scored, exercises focused students on particular aspects of works to be examined and told students to tie all observations to specific references to the works. As an example, look at the exercise shown below from a visual arts paper-and-pencil task.

Example of Visual Arts Paper-and-Pencil Task

Look at painting 2. Like painting 1, painting 2 shows an interior space that communicates certain feelings and human experiences. The artist, Edward Hopper, accomplishes this very differently from the way Lawrence does.

Take some time to study

  • images and objects you think are important;
  • colors and contrasts; and
  • how the objects and space are arranged in the painting.

Based on what you notice, what do you think the artist might have wanted to communicate about the place and person in the painting? Write a brief essay in which you talk about the items on the list above to help support your ideas.

NEXT: Strategy 6: Take into Account Practical Constraints That May Limit What Students Can Be Asked to Do.

Last updated 7 March 2003 (HM)