Critical Thinking and Creativity

Two weeks back I posted a blog on critical thinking and creativity which connects to an article I just read from Doug Reeves in ASCD’s  Express  where he examines “The Assessment Gap in  Career  and College Readiness.” Reeves identifies  the call in Common Core Standards and from employers and college faculty for 21st century skills, such as critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and communication in writing as well as in speaking and technology skills, such as web design, digital communication, and social networking.  He notes that while saying these skills are important, we seldom assess them.

Here are a few quotes from Reeves that I hope will encourage you to read the article:

~While colleges and employers require writing that is crisp; thoughtful; evidence-based; and the result of drafting, editing, rewriting, and painstaking improvement, the typical writing assessment is a one-shot wonder, created without taking advantage of evidence or available resources.

~Not a single state assesses speaking, though this form of communication remains essential for engagement in collaborative groups at work or in higher education. Not a single state assesses the use of technology to communicate, such as building a website or creating a dynamic and purposeful network.

~Scores of doctoral dissertations that cover collaborative learning were written by a single person working entirely alone.

~But while we praise the concept of critical thinking, we neither practice it nor assess it. 

Similar to my earlier blog’s point that standardized testing need not prevent teachers from having students practice creativity and critical thinking, Reeves states that it is what produces the student engagement  likely to increase student performance on the standardized test. He believes that teachers are in the best spot to develop assessments for these 21st Century skills.

Ronni Reed, commenting on that recent blog of mine, sent me to a resource for considering such assessments:
“I have been very interested in this since NJ adopted the 21st Century Skills as an additional part of the NJ CCCS requirements. I researched some assessments in order to get a baseline on students, so that growth could be demonstrated. I found wonderful resources on the Catalina Foothills website. [Catalina Foothills Unified School District #16 in Tucson, Arizona] Check it out.”

Exploring the site I found rubrics (novice, basic, proficient,advanced) for each of the following areas of critical and creative thinking:

Comparing, classifying, inductive and deductive reasoning, error analysis, constructing support, abstracting, analyzing perspectives, decision making, investigating, problem solving, experimental inquiry, invention, data analysis, and scientific inquiry.

The site also includes video clips of teachers and students sharing examples of their work with 21st Century Skills. Here is an example.

Ronni…Thanks for sharing!

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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