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Assessing creativity – criteria and tools for process and products

In our Erasmus+ project on collaborative digital storytelling, we created assessment criteria and tools for project-based learning of international marketing. These tools can be tailored and applied to creative project work across disciplines, with focus on both creative process and products.

Published : 11.12.2023

In Haaga-Helia’s courses of marketing and communication, we have for long experimented with ways to assess creativity both in terms of creative products and the collaborative creative process. Our assessment tools and methods include self and peer assessment templates, formative assessment discussions with target groups, industry stakeholders, and teachers as well as in-process and retrospective reflections through learning journals and showcasing project results and acquired competences through portfolios.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic intensified the need to develop solutions for assessing the work of virtual project teams in our blended intensive programmes (BIP) of international marketing. As teachers found it difficult to observe students’ collaborative learning online and virtually, it became imperative to further foster the self-awareness and critical self- and peer assessment competences of students themselves.

Among a European network of teachers and researchers, we combined different Erasmus+ project resources to test and sharpen our assessment solutions. To standardize assessment criteria and make it easier for both students and teachers to conceptualize and monitor learning progress and results, we co-created new assessment rubrics, learning journal templates, and portfolio instructions that actively support students’ reflective learning. All these tools can be applied across disciplines and cultures.

What are creative processes and creative products?

In our Erasmus+ project on digital storytelling, Learn to Change, we co-created a digital storytelling pedagogy and creative process with five steps.

  1. Background research and audience insight
  2. Concept design
  3. Scripting and storyboarding
  4. Digital production
  5. Publication and engagement

These storytelling steps, in turn, are integrated with an overall co-creation process consisting of co-ideation, co-design, co-implementation and co-evaluation phases.

As digital storytelling is a complex creative process and there are so many different sources, models, and materials of storytelling available on the Internet, we wanted to end up with a pedagogical roadmap and a step-by-step process with related educational resources, including assessment rubrics and instructions, to manage the complexity.

We tested our digital storytelling process, open educational materials, and assessment solutions in project-based courses and blended intensive programs in international marketing, sustainable tourism, and English for specific purposes in 2021–2022.

As their creative end products, our students planned and produced digital stories (videos, podcasts, blog articles, social media campaigns) promoting sustainable tourism and lifestyles. For example, there were experiential stories about women entrepreneurs in Málaga in Spain, seaside-town adventures and delights in Loviisa in Finland, the off-the-beaten-track vibe of Budapest’s Margit District in Hungary, and the local cultural and culinary heritage of the Castelo Branco region in Portugal.

Assessment tools that benefit students, teachers, and employers

In terms of learning and competence development, the creative process is just as important as the final creative product. Employers are not only interested in the digital content or other creative products students have created, but also (and even more so) in what competences, attitudes, and values they developed in the process and how well they managed to collaborate with team members and stakeholders.

However, it is not always easy for students to conceptualize, assess, and showcase their learning and competence development in such a way that an external observer (a teacher or an employer) is able to make reliable judgements.

To help students understand what is expected from them in terms of learning progress and results, it is useful to share transparent assessment criteria pertaining to both creative process and products right at the beginning of the project or course. These assessment criteria for digital storytelling can easily be tailored to the needs of any project-based creative work. To further support the evaluation of the learning process and creative collaboration among student teams and industry partners, we provide useful tools and instructions for both self and peer assessment.

Finally, it is crucial to help students to assess and showcase their personal and professional competences, attitudes, and values in ways that employers find user-friendly and attractive when making recruitment decisions. Our instructions for digital portfolios help students create materials for such comprehensive competence assessment and evaluation.

Editing: Marianne Wegmüller

Picture: Shutterstock