Creating rubrics for assessing creative projects can be a challenge. Here are some thoughts and suggestions for crafting an effective tool for drawing out student’s best efforts.
1. CLEAR CRITERIA: When working with students on creative projects, a well-crafted rubric or other assessment tool can inform and even challenge. Rubrics allow teachers to award credit to students for doing clearly defined tasks that are vital to a project and which can be objectively evaluated.
2. SMALL, BUT IMPORTANT AESTHETIC COMPONENT: Yet, it is entirely appropriate for creative projects that some aspect(s) of the assessment be subjective in nature; this leaves room in the rubric to inspire and honor students for efforts in the affective domain. I would make this no more than 10-20% of the grade, however.
3. RUBRICS CALCULATE, BUT RARELY MOTIVATE: Although rubrics play a vital role in demonstrating to students what is expected, other aspects of creative projects are responsible for motivating students toward artistic excellence (i.e. the inspiring examples shared, the peer comments/critique, or the end-of-project performance, etc.).
4. YOUR COMMENTS MEAN SO MUCH: Since these projects are decidedly aesthetic in nature, I always leave a place for my comments. For larger projects, I usually write my students a paragraph or two response to their piece. I think if a project is worth students spending a week or more creating and refining, then it’s worth me spending 5 or 10 minutes sharing my thoughts and comments about their creative work!
One of the best overviews of music education rubrics I have found online is by Edward Asmus, Ph. D. and ican be found at: www.music.miami.edu/assessment/rubrics.html
Maud Hickey, who has done a lot of research and writing about student composition activites, posts this rubric for assessing a student composition: Music Composition Example Rubric. Note how much of it is subjective in nature.
Finally, here are two rubrics I use when evaluating two GarageBand activities. The first is to assess a “favorite sounds” instrument (timbre) search: Favorite Sounds Activity rubric. This rubric is meant to gie forward motion to a project that is so fun that students can easily get sidetracked
The second is used to assess projects in a “New Clothes for Old Music” unit I teach, in which students create a synth/pop fusion setting of a brief Baroque or Classical keyboard piece: New Clothes for Old Music rubric. Note the linear scale (which I often use) that goes from 6-through-10. In other words, a student can do no worse than a “D” in those categories.