UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Living assessment : the artful assessment of learning in the arts Yanko, Matthew


Arts learning experiences often embrace a canvas of colourful interpretations and creativity that necessitate assessment practices unique to the arts. However, conventional practices (i.e., rating scales, rubrics, and checklists) struggle, or are unable, to meaningfully assess students’ creativity, imagination, and meaning making. Therefore, guided by a framework of artography and autoethnography, I developed a novel, formative means of assessment grounded in artistic thinking, doing, and making—living assessment. Living assessment encourages l’art pour l’art, and is rooted in underpinnings of pedagogical documentation, learning stories, and living inquiry. That foundation evokes three guideposts—documentation, artistry, and augmentation— to support teachers as they engage with artistic practices, tools, and frameworks to creatively illuminate values and judgments of their students’ creativity, imagination, and meaning making in arts learning experiences. Over the course of a school year, I composed over 500 creative non-fictional, autoethnographies of my journey with living assessment. The stories focus on the artful assessments of Kindergarten, Grade 1, Grade 4/5, and Grade 6 student music learning experiences. Findings from the study illuminate how this practice of assessment respects and values the individual child and enables a democratic means of assessment for the entire learning community. This inquiry also elucidates how living assessment advocates meaning making through the arts, which better corresponds with the learning at hand, and with children’s cognitive capacities—i.e., through play-based learning, drawing, painting, music, and drama. In our learning community, many of the students saturated themselves in the aesthetics of art making, and were able to respond to what they made and learned through aesthetic criticisms. Moreover, living assessment provides opportunities for parents to participate in and better support their child’s learning and meaning making. Artfully inspired, autoethnographic assessment practices also enable an ongoing reflexive process of professional development for the teacher. What is more, I came to understand that living assessment not only supports a practice that is creative, playful, and discursive, but also entices young learners to experience joy, wonder, and passion with the arts through an ongoing participation in the art of living assessment.

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