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Creative Arts


Creative Arts for the Assessment of Human Society


Unlike other subject areas, assessment in art focuses on performance assessment, which dictates a product as an end result of a problem-solving activity. This process is also referred to as authentic assessment that uses realistic, meaningful, open-ended problems as a means of evaluating student learning (Beattie, 1997). Authentic assessment is used by artists involved in the creative process. By modeling critical reflective thinking for our students, we provide tools for students to assess their own work. With the teacher at the center of a dynamic process, he or she can influence creativity outcomes.

This paper will investigate the use of Creative Arts as an effective assessment tool in other key learning areas. The focus of this study will be proposing an assessment in the Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE) learning area, more specifically, addressing HSIE Environmental outcomes ENS3.5 and ENS3.6 (Board of Studies, 1998). In line with the Board of Studies HSIE Units of Work of statement, the particular focus here will be on Rainforest Environments. The proposed assessment task will be aligned with students developing a sound understanding of the structure, climatic conditions, flora and fauna of particular rainforest environments.

The assessment will be the culmination of the first element (approximately 5hrs, or 10% of 2 school weeks, plus excursion) of the study on rainforests, which as mentioned above is concerned with students developing knowledge of the physical environment. It is essential that students have mastered this concept before they move on to examining human influences and sustainable development, on such environments. In developing knowledge of the physical environment, students will have studied elements such as, the BBC’s Nature series (nd.) available at (, Rainforest Heroes (Rainforest Action Network, 1985) available at ( as well as Interactive White Board lessons put together with resources retrieved from the Teaching And Learning Exchange (nd.) ( To bookend this learning sequence students will be taken on an excursion to The Forest of Tranquility, Australian Rainforest Sanctuary at Ourimbah NSW. Here students will receive hands on educational experiences that will support their understanding and construction of the assessment, a diorama representing the rainforest environment and a sounds cape to support the model.

A diorama is a three dimensional representation of a scene. Students will be expected to construct a diorama with supporting soundtrack that represents their understanding of a rainforest environment. To facilitate the construction, the dioramas and soundscapes will become the focus of the Creative Arts lesson time slots. This will provide the students with, the same resource pool, the same amount of time and the same element of teacher support. This strategy, as opposed to having students do the creation in their own time, provides an equal opportunity for students to display their understanding, resulting in a fair assessment. This process is designed to eliminate the influence of elements such as parental support or socio economic status that is so often seen with projects that are set outside of school hours. In conjunction with this it will also provide an engaging educational construct around which the Creative Arts lessons can be built.

The students will have a choice whether to represent a temperate or a tropical rainforest environment; however they are expected to be consistent across all of the environmental elements particular to the rainforest they are depicting. To support students in this endeavour they will have access to resources such as, a computer with “garage band” programme or similar as well as internet access to a list of prescribed sites. Students will be provided with a clear set of expectations around which to frame their work, a description of the task, a due date, design tips, more academic resources for them to consider such as books, encyclopedias and CD ROMs.

This will enable students to construct a suitable soundscape as well as research information needed to produce their three dimensional model. In terms of the model students will have access to glues, paints, plasticines, crepe paper, sticks, leaf varieties, cardboard and enough boxes of the same size for each student to frame their project. Finally a rubric detailing expectations will also be provided.

This assessment task is culturally non-descript, so in terms of differentiation, consideration must be given to physical and intellectual impairment only. Great strides have been made in computer software to support the physically impaired. To support those within the classroom with impairments such as these, they would be able to construct their dioramas entirely on the computer using software such as “Vue” three dimensional landscape modeling software. For those students with intellectual impairment, depending on the severity, the grading scale would be adjusted to reflect progression of learning and effort applied to the task.


While our intention is for students to uncover detailed information about their assigned habitats, the real value of this lesson is having them experience the research process. Students should be able to re-tell important facts about the rainforests through their report and illustration. This can be assessed with a simple checklist that lists the learning objectives. Students and their partners can share their reports with the rest of the class. 

Children’s projects were displayed in the classroom and school’s art gallery; they completed their art work with the help of given tools described above. Their work was approximately perpetually diverse from the other art work executed all over the school; they were more suitable to authorize categorization in the traditional types of natural art portraiture, scenery, still life, different scenes and to mirror a variety of choices about shape and sound. The theme that class teachers provided to their students was diverse, in methods and in approaches, from the art work that art teachers always displayed.

The growing recognition of the epistemological and interpretive function of art inspires hope that the art that children encounter in schools will become more meaningful and less solitary and mechanical than it has been in the past. This may be a propitious moment to suggest to elementary teachers that art is a way that children have of knowing the world—a means of documenting their experiences and a mode of constructing meaning. As Goldberg (1997) notes, there is plenty of teaching and learning to go around, if we recognize that learning with the arts, through the arts, and about the arts are all compelling and important enterprises. Rainforest theme taught students to elucidate, merge, and vivify other learning experience that assist students make sense of their active society and environment, mainly that knowledge they carved up in that environment as they go through the rain forests experience. On the other hand the selected theme made them closer to the natural environment and it built their knowledge and interest.

Encounters with the arts nurture and sometimes provoke the growth of individuals who reach out to one another as they seek clearings in their experience and try to live more ardently in the world. If the significance of the arts for growth, inventiveness, and problem solving is recognized at last, a desperate stasis may be overcome, and people may come to recognize the need for new raids on what T S. Eliot called the «inarticulate.» (p. 37) (Roberts, 2007)

Extensions in thinking also may grow out of the exercise. Visual art that conveys the concept of completeness in sentences also may connect the concept to completeness in other contexts, which anticipates the second approach that teachers can take to incorporating artistic production in class.

Broad concepts, like completeness above, or balance, form, equality, harmony, truth, process, concentration, or any other broad concept that has a place in the school curriculum can provide the basis for artistic approaches to learning. Taking one example from the list above, balance, we may imagine what students could generate if given prompts using Gardner’s eight identified intelligences. For example, imagine how students could represent their understanding of balance using their intelligence, their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence or their naturalistic intelligence. The concept itself is transformed through these different treatments, and students can then explore what aspects of the concept remain in the different contexts and what aspects change.

If teachers (and other educators from outside of the school) begin to consider opportunities for students to engage in artistic responses to school curriculum, we will move toward discovering the balance between standards-based, one-size-fits-all instruction and diverse, exploratory, creative learning that Burke-Adams (2007) advocated. The creative options in response to course content can either replace traditional assessment or accompany it. Preassessment can help teachers to identify students who will benefit overtly from arts-related alternatives, although all students, not just gifted students, deserve opportunities to demonstrate knowledge in a variety of ways.

It is common practice for art teachers to take their students on field trips to art galleries and museums. Such trips usually involve walking through exhibition spaces with the teacher or docent stopping by selected works to provide students with relevant information. But how much of these experiences do children actually retain? Most importantly, perhaps, is, do such experiences really improve students’ understanding of art? The primary purpose of gallery or museum field trips has been to provide students with direct experiences of qualitative works of art. To improve students’ understanding of art in the schools, it is important to expand the focus of field experiences to include observation of artists and their works in real-life settings (Sternberg, 1991).

Visual artists have been widely stigmatized with «the starving artist’s syndrome,» which often portrays them as skillful but eccentric, hardworking but impoverished and vulnerable, and destined to be unappreciated except, perhaps, posthumously. With such a disparaging image of art in real life, it may be difficult for students to view participating in school art as worthwhile. On the other hand, students may find it difficult to relate isolated school art projects to well appreciated vocational activities, such as product design, advertising, and museum exhibitions. To clarify misconceptions about the visual arts and bridge the gap between school art and art as experienced in everyday life, teachers must expand the focus of the art curriculum to include direct observation of artists and their works in society when possible.


Art exists in the public sphere. First and foremost, artistic production occurs in the social context, and the interpretation of art acts to connect images to a range of meanings within a symbolic and historical context. The arts are created and assessed in the context of a society that confers meaning upon them; support for and recognition of the value of the arts and artists are products of social and historical circumstances. Thus, the status and interpretation of the arts may vary depending on the period or cultural context and must be understood accordingly in terms of temporal and spatial sociopolitical, economic, and cultural dynamics.

Art is socially constructed as a specialized cultural expression, conceptualized as fundamentally constituted from the inherent skills and innate talents of the artist. Moreover, it is precisely the social character of art and its interpretation relative to social value, significance, and power that frames it as a political issue and places it on the political agenda. It is against this backdrop that we address the meaning and effect of the excellence-access debate relative to democratic ideals and practice in the U.S. The influence of society on the arts and the role and influence of the arts in society are the fundamental issues in question, particularly in regard to the creation, evaluation, use, and distribution of the arts in society.

Interdisciplinary teaching goes very healthy in elementary school classrooms, lots of which are independent. The theme of rainforest offers a focus that describes itself simply to an interdisciplinary strategy. It is expected that as students go through the variety of activities, they will be able to observe that the subject areas are interlinked. These techniques put together classroom education with hands-on knowledge, delivering a prosperous learning environment for school children with varied interests and learning methods. The value of arts integration lies in its great potential to help learners experience learning as a holistic endeavor that connects their personal feelings with intellectual and physical skill development and helps them anticipate learning challenges with joy. Examples of programs that accomplish these goals should be constantly sought to learn more about how more students can be given the same opportunities. Continued examination of the process of curriculum development may deepen our understanding of learning in the arts, as well as deepening our understanding of the possibilities and challenges to collaborative teaching.


Beattie, K. (1997). Assessment in Art Education. Worcester, MA: Davis.

Burke-Adams, A. (2007). The benefits of equalizing standards and creativity: Discovering a balance in instruction. Gifted Child Today 30(1), 58-63.

Goldberg, M. 1997. Arts and learning. New York: Longman

Roberts, J. L., &Inman, T. E (2007). Strategies for differentiating instruction: Best practices for the classroom. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Sternberg, R. J., & Lubart, T. I. (1991). Creating creative minds. Phi Delta Kappan, 21, 608-614.