Creative learning assessment

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“Different initiatives that exist to measure creativity at the aggregate level are, indeed, not measuring creativity levels per se. They are measuring the contextual characteristics that could be associated with creativity, or the different aspects in society that can be regarded as the output of a creative process (such an innovation). The different sets of indicators, therefore, constitute pointers of aspects that can be related to creativity.” (Villalba, 2009:6).

See also: creativity, flow theory

The CLA - Creative Learning Assessment

The CLA Creative Learning Continuum, with cross-curricular and cross-age dimensions of learning, proved a clear, informing and open structure for reflecting on progress. Based on CLPE’s Patterns of Learning continuum (1990), it comprised:

(i) confidence, independence and enjoyment

(ii) collaboration and communication

(iii) creativity

(iv) strategies and skills

(v) knowledge and understanding

(vi) reflection and evaluation. (Ellis 2009:317)

Note: CLA also stands for

  • Collegiate Learning Assessment (see below), a test popular in the USA.
  • Communicative Language Ability scale

The CLA observation framework

“The CLA observation framework allows teachers space to record what they are noticing while children are working on a creative project. It asks questions like: ‘In what ways are children able to take risks and experiment in their learning?’, ‘Do they generate ideas, questions and make connections?’, ‘Are there examples of responding to and commenting on their own and other people’s work?’” (Ellis 2009:319).

Ellis: (2009:318) provide an example observation grid including each of the six creativity contexts. If we understood right, these items are not standardized and can be expanded or adapted to context.

(i) confidence, independence, enjoyment, e.g.
developing pleasure and enjoyment
engagement and focus
empathy and emotional involvement
(ii) collaboration and communication, e.g.
works effectively in a team
contributes to discussion, makes suggestions
listens and responds to others
perseveres, overcomes problems
communicates and presents ideas
(iii) creativity, e.g.
is imaginative and playful
generates ideas, questions and makes connections
risk-takes and experiments
expresses own creative ideas using a range of artistic elements
(iv) strategies and skills, e.g.
identifies issues and explores options
plans and develops a project
demonstrates a growing range of artistic/creative skills
uses appropriate subject specific skills with increasing control
(v) knowledge and understanding, e.g.
awareness of different forms, styles, artistic and cultural
traditions, creative techniques
uses subject specific knowledge and language with
(vi) reflection and evaluation, e.g.
responds to and comments on own and others’ work
responds to artistic/creative experiences
analyses and constructively criticises work

The CLA scale

  • Level 1: Children play with creative materials and elements and use them to express feelings and ideas. They practise simple skills, exploring possibilities. Children begin to recognise and describe some creative effects. They describe what they think and feel about their own.(Ellis, 2009b)
  • Level 5: Children are increasingly conscious of the imaginative possibilities in a particular creative medium. They select and organise their material to express their ideas and intentions, making choices for different purposes and to create different effects. They use skills with precision, control and fluency, combining them appropriately and effectively. Children analyse how meanings are conveyed, with increasing critical awareness, drawing on their knowledge and understanding of an art form and using appropriate vocabulary. They reflect critically on their own and others’ work and show awareness of purpose and context in refining. (Ellis, 2009b)

The CLA - Collegiate Learning Assessment

“The Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) is a performance assessment of college students’ critical thinking, analytic reasoning, and problem solving and written communication skills. Developed by a group of academics with the Council for Aid to Education (CAE), the CLA assesses the “value added” by an institution to key higher order skills of its students.”(Hafner, 2007).

The assessment includes two tasks:

  • “The first type of test is a performance task that asks students to use a set of critical thinking, analytical reasoning, problem solving and written communication skills to answer open-ended question about a task or situation. The task includes a document library with a range of sources (e.g. letters, memos, articles, photos, charts, etc). Students are asked to use their materials in preparing and answering the performance task within 90 minutes. In the task, students are expected to present ideas clearly and to cite sources in the document library that support the points.” (Hafner, 2007).
  • “The other type of test is an analytic writing task. Two types of essay prompts are possible, “make an argument” or “critique an argument”. Both tasks measure a student’s ability to articulate ideas, examine claims, support ideas with reasons and examples, sustain a coherent discussion and use standard written English. Students are given 45 minutes to either address an issue in making an argument or critique an argument.”(Hafner, 2007).



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  • DfES (2003). Excellence and Enjoyment: a strategy for primary schools. London: DfES.
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  • Hafner, Anne L. (2007). Using the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA) to Inform Campus Planning, CSULA, PDF
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