Have you ever been given a project to assess but couldn't? Have you ever created a rubric to assess the unassessable?

This post is a reflection on a previous experience of assessing a project that was relying heavily on creativity.

It was in celebration of the international women's day that we at Al Azhar English Training Center started a poster competition to celebrate it. The competition was to create a poster around a female role model who had an impact on society, which was two weeks before the 8th of March and it was open for all levels.

Teachers took it upon themselves to help students understanding the idea of posters and its usual content. Students brought their own materials to help create their posters.

Then on the 8th of March, we had an opening ceremony to the art gallery where all posters got presented.

The problem was that  the two academic managers who were supposed to choose did not have a certain criteria to share neither between themselves nor with the students.

The following dialogue took place between me and another colleague in the process of feedback:

T: What is the criteria you used to choose the winners?

Me: It is the creativity of the poster that makes it standout?

T: But how do you assess creativity?

Me: er, er well, the effort exerted in putting it all together shows it.

T: Still, how do you measure that effort?

Me: ........................................(staring in despair)

One way out of that was to judge the posters by the language used and the academic integrity (plagiarism). Yet, the fact that even this criteria was not shared with students from the beginning. Only to result on having most of the posters ruled out.

Solution :

  • Have a clear aim and share it with your students
  • Set expectations for yourself and the students alike
  • Design a rubric to serve that aim and share it with the students from the beginning

There of course could be a better view and solution to this situation, I will be glad if you can share with me your thoughts.




I'm sure the students benefited from this project. You shouldn't regret the creativity, just learn from the problems to improve the process next time. (Isn't this what we tell our students?)
I've done many creative projects, some of which I had to grade, and I agree with your 3-step solution. It is best to share the rubric with students and when feasible to build it with them. Parameters I include are: creativity, effort, how much they learned from the project, how well they worked with others if it was a group project, initiative, artistic quality of the final project, oral presentation if there is one. I often have students fill out their own assessment and if I feel that they've been honest with themselves and with me use that as their final grade.

I will definitely try your advice in asking students to create the assessment rubrics themselves :)

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