Assessment and the Arts

Our activity in class last week focused on creating sculptures that related to three different content areas and SOLs. If I were the teacher, I would assess the Squishy Circuits activity by focusing on the three aspects of art assessment that Dr. Goldberg discussed in Chapter 10—technique, content, and intellectual behavior. In this particular exercise, the students’ technique could be assessed by analyzing the ways in which they used the Play-Doh, clay, lightbulbs, and battery to create their sculpture. This would include their understanding that Play-Doh conducts electricity, whereas clay doesn’t, in relation to how they choose to construct their sculpture. For example, for my group’s math sculpture, we used Play-Doh for the numbers on the clock so that students would be able to practice telling time. If we wanted to demonstrate to students that a particular time was incorrect, we could use clay for the numbers so that they wouldn’t conduct electricity and therefore, wouldn’t light up. The content of the students’ sculpture could be assessed by determining whether their artwork aligns with an SOL or a particular content area. The simplest way to assess the content in this way would be to have the students state the SOL and explain its connection to their sculpture. For example, my group’s sculpture for science was unclear at first; therefore, it would have been more helpful to include the SOL and explain its significance in detail. Lastly, the intellectual behavior of the students during this activity could be assessed by observing each group and making note of student participation and cooperation during the process of making the sculpture. This would include aspects such as active listening, inquiring when something is unclear, and organizing ideas in order to produce a piece of art that is representative of the whole group’s understanding of the material.

I believe that the activity gives enough opportunities for students to show their learning because it allows students to focus on a particular content area and whether their representation of the concept is accurate. This activity could be used as a form of summative assessment if the teacher gave the students a content area or SOL on which to focus, rather than allowing the students to choose. In this activity, the end product is important because it can re-used or built upon to practice different forms of understanding and for different forms of assessment. Although the end product is important, the process of creating and learning is just as important because the students are able to engage both with the material and with one another to create a representation of their collective knowledge. Having students collaborate with their peers is often, though not always, an effective method of assessment because students are able to learn from one another and practice skills such as active listening and cooperation.

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