Sunday, November 10, 2013

Creativity -v- rubrics

Last year I read a paper about what employers are most looking for in school leavers.  Of course there are many different attributes that are important for school and colleague leavers to have, but creativity is certainly one of them.  At my last school I was in a book club that read Alfie Kohn's Punished by Rewards, where he wrote about how grades can be counterproductive to motivation and learning.  Today I've been reading about rubrics and how they can be counterproductive to creativity.  For example a rubric imposes the teacher's vision or definition of what the final product should look like (so doesn't leave room for the student to make that choice for him/herself).  A rubric can also turn into a "check the box" activity that limits students ("I've written my 5 paragraphs so I've done enough").

Many teachers have moved away from grades and towards rubrics, but my question today is:  is this enough?  Do rubrics still limit student creativity?

Photo Credit: Ervins Strauhmanis via Compfight cc


  1. I'm struggling with this right now. I like rubric versus just giving an assignment. However, I see it turn into a checklist lots of times. On one rubric, I left the "Exceed" column blank. The "At Standard" column was, well, at the standard of what I was expecting. I told the students that they needed to figure out what the Exceeds column would be for them, in their learning style, and with their creativity. Some just went for standard. A few did pretty well with exceeding. I'm not sure this is a fair way to do it though.

  2. Assessing skills like creativity is not easy but it can be done. I recommend a browse through resources such as this one ( to see how. There is no reason that creativity cannot be included on a rubric criteria, but some assignments do require adherence to certain conventions, so my opinion is they do indeed have a place in the learning framework - best done if learners themselves can construct them of course.