2011. Vol.2, No.4, 333-340
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. DOI:10.4236/ce.2011.24047
Measuring Creativity: A Case Study Probing Rubric Effectiveness
for Evaluation of Project-Based Learning Solutions
Renee M. Clary1, Robert F. Brzuszek2, C. Taze Fulford2
1Department of Geosciences, Mississippi State University, Starkville, USA;
2Cognitive Department of Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University, Starkville, USA.
Received July 26th, 2011; revised August 28th, 2011; accepted September 6th, 2011.
This research investigation focused upon whether creativity in project outcomes can be consistently measured
through assessment tools, such as rubrics. Our case study research involved student-development of landscape
design solutions for the Tennessee Williams Visitors Center. Junior and senior level undergraduates (N = 40) in
landscape architecture design classes were assigned into equitable groups (n = 11) by an educational psycholo-
gist. Groups were subsequently assigned into either a literary narrative or abstract treatment classroom. We in-
vestigated whether student groups who were guided in their project development with abstract treatments were
more likely to produce creative abstract design solutions when compared to those student groups who were
guided with literary narrative interpretations. Final design solutions were presented before an audience and a
panel of jurors (n = 9), who determined the outstanding project solutions through the use of a rubric, cus-
tom-designed to assess the project outcomes. Although our assumption was that the measurement of the creativ-
ity of groups’ designs would be consistent through the use of the rubric, we uncovered some discrepancies be-
tween rubric score sheets and jurors’ top choices. We subjected jurors’ score sheets and results to a thorough
analysis, and four persistent themes emerged: 1) Most jurors did not fully understand the rubric’s use, including
the difference between dichotomous categories and scored topics; 2) Jurors were in agreement that 6 of the 11
projects scored were outstanding submissions; 3) Jurors who had directly worked with a classroom were more
likely to score that class’ groups higher; and 4) Most jurors, with the exception of two raters, scored the abstract
treatment group projects as higher and more creative. We propose that while the rubric appeared to be effective
in assessing creative solutions, a more thorough introduction to its use is warranted for jurors. More research is
also needed as to whether prior interaction wi t h st ud e nt g roups influences jur or ratings.
Keywords: Creativity Assessments, Rubric, Creativity Measurement, Rubric Consistenc y, Problem Based
A quick perusal of education resources attests to the impor-
tance of creativity: Researchers advocate creativity within art,
literature, and even science classrooms (Yager, 2000; Taylor,
Jones, & Broadwell, 2008; Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; Niaz, 1993).
Incorporating creativity is not without challenges, however.
Markham (2011) recently discussed some of the complexities
and difficulties for teaching creativity. While most instructors
recognize the importance of encouraging creativity in a class-
room, they also realize that teaching creative processes involves
significantly different techniques than co n t e nt instruc ti o n.
However, as challenging as it may be to foster creativity in a
classroom, assessing it can be even more difficult. How can an
instructor anticipate creative solutions? Perhaps more problem-
atic is whether instructors will consistently recognize and eval-
uate creative outcomes.
This case study project involved student-created landscape
design solutions for the Visitor’s Center in Columbus, Missis-
sippi, which is the birthplace of noted playwright and Missis-
sippi native, Tennessee Williams. In this quasi-experimental
research design, an educational psychologist systematically gr-
ouped students to create equitable teams for a project based
learning assignment. These teams were then assigned into one
of two classrooms. While one classroom heard presentations on
a literal narrative of Tennessee Williams’ life and works, and
was assisted by an outside designer recognized for his literal
interpretations, a theater professor discussed metaphorical
meanings in Williams’ work with the other class, and students
were then assisted by an external designer known for his ab-
stract solutions. Although we hypothesized differences between
the groups’ final projects, one research assumption was that the
measurement of the creativity of groups’ designs would be st-
andardized and consistent through a customized rubric, an as-
sessment tool developed specifically to evaluate this project’s
outcomes. This paper investigates whether the rubric was, in
fact, an effective assessment tool, and whether the assumption
of rater consistency was valid.
Creative Problem Solving, Problem Based Learning,
The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) model identifies vari-
ous stages of divergent and convergent actions, which in addi-
tion to describing the creative process, can also be used to fa-
cilitate it (Osborn, 1963; Parnes 1982; Isaksen & Treffinger,
1993). This combination of divergent and convergent processes
is incorporated in the pedagogy of problem based learning
(PBL), which provides students with complex real-life situa-
tions. Although originally implemented in the health sciences,
PBL techniques are appropriated for general classroom use, and
have researcher support for providing student opportunities for
R. M. CLARY ET AL.
divergent thinking and creativity (Delisle, 1997; Tan, 2008).
Sternberg (2010) provided general instructor guidelines for pro-
moting creative processes in a classroom—including project
based learning and facilitation of student inquiry—and sug-
gested an encouragement of idea generation, risk-taking, and
tolerance of ambiguity.
There is general support for problem based learning and di-
vergent thinking pedagogy for encouraging student creativity;
assessment of creative products has paralleled an assessment of
divergent thinking. Guildford’s early research (1959, 1986,
1988) identified divergent thinking components which were
quickly appropriated for creativity assessment. Fluency, flexi-
bility, originality, and elaboration are Guildford categories co-
mmonly encountered for rating student creative performance.
Likewise, Wiggins and McTighe’s (2005) categories for meta-
cognitive thinking—explanation, interpretation, application, per-
spective, empathy, and self-knowledge—have also been com-
mandeered to assess creative products.
Previous Research: Assessment Instruments for
Instruments designed to assist in evaluating creative products
are intended to bring consistency to the process (Starko, 1995).
However, the criteria for scoring creativity must be appropriate
to the product being assessed. Rubrics have become common
scoring guides for creative assessment, but taxonomy of crea-
tivity is necessary for effectiveness (Shepherd & Mullane,
2008). Johnson et al. (2000) warned that rating of performances
required “considerable judgment” of the raters, and noted that
reliability was often improved by using multiple assessors. In a
meta-analysis of scoring rubrics, Jonsson and Svingby (2007)
concluded that reliable scoring of performance assessment could
be enhanced by rubrics—especially if accompanied by rater
training. However, the researchers noted that simple use of
rubrics did not necessarily facilitate valid judgment. Shores and
Weseley (2007) discovered that educators’ political views af-
fected their perception of student performance, and concluded
that a rubric was not an effective tool to prevent rater bias.
Tennessee Williams Project
In 2010, representatives from the town of Columbus, Missis-
sippi, sought suggestions for landscape development in the
space surrounding their Visitors Center (circa 1875), which also
happens to be the birthplace of playwright Tennessee Williams.
In this quasi-experimental research design, two landscape ar-
chitecture design classes at a research university in the southern
US were combined in a vertical studio project. We utilized
Yin’s (2008) case study research and analysis guidelines to
organize and direct this project, and all protocols and proce-
dures were approved by the university’s Institutional Review
Board prior to the start of the project.
The courses involved in this research are junior and senior
level landscape architecture courses (N = 40, where Design I: n
= 21; Design III: n = 19). Design I is a junior level course
taught in Fall semesters that is open to landscape architecture
students who have completed introductory coursework in de-
sign, computers, and graphics. Design III, also taught in Fall
semesters, is the third design class in the curriculum sequence,
and as a result, students enrolled in Design III have more ex-
perience than the incoming Design I students. (Design II, the
sequential course after Design I, is taught in Spring semesters
and was not involved in this study.) Landscape architecture
design courses utilize a project based learning system in which
students investigate various instructor-chosen locations, and
work either individually or within groups to produce a design
Use of TypeFocusTM for Assignment of Student
Prior to the case study assignment, students in both courses
were directed to access and complete a TypeFocusTM online
survey. TypeFocus TM is available at the university as a personal
assessment tool to assist students in identifying their interests
for career planning. However, TypeFocusTM also measures in-
dividuals’ potential creativity and divergent thinking, and we
utilized this tool to ensure that the potential creative students
were equitably distributed among groups. Previous research
(Nassar & Johnson, 1990) suggested that landscape architects
are more commonly intuitive (N), thinking (T), and judging (J),
although there was quite a bit of variability among the sample.
Regardless of our students’ characteristics, we wanted to ensure
that one group did not have an inherent advantage over another
because of student characteristics.
An educational psychologist used the TypeFocusTM data, as
well as the class standing (junior or senior level) to assemble
project groups. In addition to the creativity and divergent
thinking assessment, TypeFocusTM data also provide indica-
tions of students’ perception of time and attendance to structure.
Six students elected not to participate in the project, and were
assigned to two non-research groups. The remaining students (n
= 34) were grouped into nine treatment groups with 3 - 4 mem-
bers. Each group had the benefit of a senior student, a student
with higher divergent thinking scores (and potential creativity),
and a student who had an awareness of time and deadlines.
Once students were assigned to groups, we randomly assigned
groups to either a literal (Design I) or abstract (Design III)
treatment classroom. However, no one other than the research-
ers was aware of the research purpose. Additionally, neither
instructor of Design I or Design III offered critiques of student
projects in order to minimize potential influence. Instead, as-
sistant instructors and outside landscape architects—who were
unaware of the research design—guided the students’ project
Tennessee Williams Project Introduction
All students completed a pre-test prior to the project assign-
ment. Questions probed knowledge of Tennessee Williams’ life
and career, and basic knowledge of Williams’ famous play, The
Glass Menagerie. Students were given their group assignment,
their classroom assignment, and then handed the project state-
ment. The project statement directed students to design a public
space surrounding the Visitors Center that reflected Tennessee
Williams’ life and work, while integrating the project into the
We assigned Tennessee Williams’ play, The Glass Menag-
erie, to all groups to illustrate Williams’ use of storytelling and
provide a flavor of Williams’ work. All students visited the
case study site in Columbus, Mississippi, where the classes
were then divided for presentations. In the literal treatment
class, students heard highlights and milestones of Tennessee
Williams’ life in a lecture presentation from Williams’ histori-
ans. Meanwhile, groups assigned to the abstract treatment
classroom heard a presentation from a theater professor on
R. M. CLARY ET AL. 335
metaphorical elements in Williams’ plays.
Later at the university, students were led in the design cha-
rette process by guest landscape architects. The literal class-
room’s landscape architect was encouraged to focus on project
and design elements, while the abstract classroom’s landscape
architect was requested to discuss concept and metaphorical
Evaluating C reativit y: The Rubric D es ign
The university design instructors researched creative meas-
ures, and discussed what factors needed to be assessed to de-
termine abstraction and creativity in the group projects. (The
group projects were scored via a separate set of criteria for
students’ recorded grades. Therefore, participation in either the
literal or abstract treatment class did not affect recorded student
performance.) After discussion and compromise, cha racteristics
of explanation (naïve, developed, or sophisticated, after Wig-
gins & McTighe, 2005), interpretation, elaboration, and origi-
nality were chosen as rubric categories. In order to ascertain
whether groups effectively used narrative or storytelling as a
guiding theme rather than metaphorical design, the rubric in-
cluded both storytelling elements and abstract ideas for both
Tennessee Williams’ life and works. Patti Carr Black, former
director of the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson, Mississippi,
noted that Mississippi artists may have experimented with ab-
straction, but they were more comfortable with “representa-
tional art” (Black, 2007). However, we hypothesized that stu-
dents exposed to abstraction in their design process might be
more apt to produce abstract designs.
The Design I and Design III instructors worked with the
educational psychologist and an educational researcher to de-
velop a rubric by which an audience would score the project
designs from each group. The individual juror’s packet in-
cluded the problem statement (“Groups were to consider the
development of a small parcel of land adjacent to the Tennes-
see Williams home on Main Street for a park. Groups were to
design a detailed public space that reflects Tennessee Williams’
life and work”). A rubric and separate score sheets for each
project (n = 11; non-research groups were also scored although
data were not used) were also provided (Appendix A).
Project Culmination: Juried Group Presentations
After an intensive two week project, student groups pre-
sented their design solutions to a public audience. Serving as
jurors were designers and literary scholars, including guest
landscape architects, the theater professor, a literary scholar of
Tennessee Williams, an architect, a floral design professor, the
educational psychologist, and representatives of the local com-
munity, including a newspaper publisher and a representative
from the tourist bureau (Figure 1). Before group presentations
began, the educational psychologist met briefly with the jurors.
Each juror was given a rating packet with 11 score sheets and
the rubric (Appendix A). The psychologist overviewed the
rubric, and discussed how the score sheets were to be used.
Additionally, each juror was asked to provide his/her top three
design choices, by group, at the end of the presentations.
Groups showcased their solution designs on project boards,
and overviewed their projects in brief presentations to the au-
dience (Figure 2). Following the 11 group presentations, jurors
were given the opportunity to revisit the project boards, ask
questions, and discuss the designs in more detail with group
Groups showcased their project designs in the form of project boards.
Nine jurors reviewed and scored g roup projects.
Each group summarized their project design for the audience.
When finished, jurors turned in their rubric packet, and the
psychologist tallied the votes. The top three groups were an-
nounced, and winning groups’ members were given small pr-
izes. The design instructors then announced the purpose be-
hind the research project.
Our original research purpose for the Tennessee Williams’
project was to determine whether student groups, who were
presented with metaphorical and abstract presentations and
project guidance, were more likely to produce abstract design
solutions than groups who were guided through literary presen-
tations and assistance. Our analysis of the abstract design solu-
tions is published, and our results indicated that students who
were exposed to abstract teaching methodologies had a greater
tendency to produce abstract solutions, and that representational
art was not necessarily the default position in the southern US
(Fulford et al., in press). However, in the analysis of the
groups’ project solutions, we noticed that the rubric scores did
not always coincide with some jurors’ choices of the top three
We subjected the nine jurors’ rater packets to a mixed meth-
odology analysis, and examined each juror’s individual score
assignments for the rubric components: explanation (E); inter-
pretation (I); storytelling (ST); abstraction (A); elaboration
(elab); and originality (O) (Table 1). We next tallied each ju-
ror’s rating sheet, and noted the top three projects according to
the scores. Next, we compared each juror’s identified top three
projects with the top three rubric-scored projects (Table 2).
Finally, we implemented Neuedorf’s (2002) guidelines for n
R. M. CLARY ET AL.
Summary of jurors’ scores for group projects. Abstract group treatments are represented in pink, while yellow groups were exposed to literary treat-
ment. Judges 5 and 8 were involved with the abstract groups’ design process, while judge 6 was involved with the literary groups. The first, second,
and third place choices o f each judge are noted by g r i d designs within the tabl e .
JUROR Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4 Group 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8 Group 9
1 e = 3, i = 3 e = 3, i = 1 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2e = 3, i = 3 e-2, i-2 e = 3, i = 3 e = 3, i = 3 e = 3, i = 3
ST = 2/3, A = 2 ST = 3, A = 3ST = 3, i = 3 ST = 2, A = 2ST = 3, A = 3ST = 2, A = 2ST/A n/r ST = 2/3, A = 3 St = 3, A = 3
elab = 3 elab = 3 elab = 3 elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 2 elab = 2 el ab = 3 elab = 3
orig – 3 orig – 2 orig = 3 orig – 2 orig – 3 orig -2 Orig = 2 orig n/r orig = 3
2 e = n/r i = 1 e n/r i = n/r 3 = 2/3 i = 3 e = 1, i = 1e = 3, i = 3 n/r e = 2, i = 1 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2
ST = 1, A = 1 st = 2, A = 2 ST = 3, A = 2/3 St = 1, A = 1ST = 3, A = 3n/r ST = 1, A = 1 ST = 2/3 A = 2 ST = 1, A = 1
elab = 1 elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 1 elab = 2 n/r elab = 1 elab = 3 elab = 2
ori g = 1 orig = 2/3 orig – 3 orig n/r orig = 3 n/r orig = 1/2 orig n/r orig = 1
3 e = yes, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2 e = 3, i = 2, e = 1, i = 1e = 2, i = 2 e = 1, i = 1 e = 3, i = 3 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2
ST = 2/3, A = 2 ST 3, An/r ST = 2, A = 3 ST = 1, A = 1ST = 2, A = 2St = 1, A = 1/2St = 2, A = 2 ST = 3, A = 3 ST = 2, A = 2
elab = 1 elab = 2 elab = 2 n/r elab = 2 n/r n/r elab = 3 n/r
orig – 3 orig 2 orig n/r orig n/r orig/nr orig n/r orig n/r orig n/r orig n/r
4 e = 2, i – 2 e = 2, i = 2 e = 2,i = 2 e = 2, i = 2e – 2, i = 2 e = 2, i = 3 e = 2, i = 1 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2. i = 2
y, y ST = 2, A = 2ST = 2, A = 3 ST = 2, A = 3ST = 2. A = 2/3St = 2, A = 2ST = 1, A = 1 ST = 2, A = 2/3 n/r
elab = 1 elab = 2 elab = 2 elab = 2 elab = 2 elab = 2 elab = 2 el ab = 3 n/r
orig – 2 orig – 2 orig = 3 orig n/ r orig n/r orig n/r or ig = 2 orig = 3 n/r
5 i – 2, i – 2 e – 1, i – 1 e – 3, i – 3 e – 2, i – 2e – 2, i – 3 e – 1, i – 1 e – 2, i – 2 e – 2, i – 2 e – 3, i – 3
ST – 2, A – 1 ST – 1, A – 1ST – 2, A – 2 ST – 2, A – 2St – 2, A – 1ST – 2, A – 3St – 2, A – 2 St – 2, A – 3 St – 2, A – 3
elab = 2 elab = 1 elab = 3 elab = 2 elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 2 el ab = 3 elab = 2
e = 1, i = 2 Orig – 1 Orig – 3 Orig – 2 Orig – 2 orig – 3 orig – 2 orig – 3 orig – 3
6 e = 1, i = 2 e = 2, i = 2 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2e = 2, i = 3 e = 1, i = 2 e = 2, i = 3 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 3
ST = 1. A = 2 St = 2, A = 2ST = 3, A = 3 ST = 3, A = 3ST = 2/3, A = 3ST = 2/3, A = 3St = 1/2, A = 3 ST = 2/3, A = 3 ST = 1, A = 2
elab = 1 elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 3 elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 3 el ab = 3 elab = 3
orig 2 – 3 orig – 2 orig = 3 orig = 2 orig = 2 orig = 3 orig = 3 orig = 3 orig = 2
7 e = 1, i = 1 e = 3, i = 1 3 = 3, i = 3 e = 1,i = 1n/r nr e = 2, i = 2 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2
ST = 1, A = 1 ST = 2/1, A = 1ST = 2/3, A = 2/3 St = 1, A = 1St = 2, A = 2n/r st = 1, A = 1 ST = 3, A = 2/3 St = 1/2, A =
elab = 1 elab = 1 elab = 3 elab = 1 elab = 2 n/r elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 2
orig – 1 ori g = 1 orig = 3 orig = 1 orig = 2 n/r orig = 2 orig – 3 orig = 2
8 e – 2, i – 2 e – 2, i – 3 e – 2. i – 3 e = 2. i = 2e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 3 e = 3, i = 2 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2
ST – 2, A – 1 ST – nr, A – 3ST = 2. A = 2 ST = 2. A = 2ST = 2/ 3, A = 3St = 2. A = 3ST = 2, A = 2 ST = 2, A = 3 ST = 2 A = 1/2
elab = 3 elab = 3 elab = 3 elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 2 elab = 3 el ab = 3 elab = 2
orig 2 orig – 2 orig 3 orig = 2 orig = 2 orig = 3 orig = 3 orig = 3 orig = 2
9 e = 1, i = 1 e = 2, i = 3 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 2e = 3, i = 3 e = 3, i = 3 e = 2, i = 3 e,I n/r n/r
ST = 1, A = 1 St = 1/2, A = 1/3ST = 3, a = 3 St = 1/2, A = 2ST = 2, A = 3ST = 3, A = 2/3ST = 1/2, A = 1 n/r n/r
elab = 2 elab = 2 elab = 3 elab = 2 elab = 2 elab = 2 e;lab = 1 n/r n/r
orig – 1 orig = 2/3 orig = 3 orig = 2 orig = 2 orig = 1 orig = 2 n/r n/r
1 2 3
First Place Second Place Third Place Literal Abstract
e = Elaboration; I = Interpretation, ST = story telling; A = abstract; Elab = Elaboration; Orig = Originality
R. M. CLARY ET AL. 337
Analysis of jurors’ scores for creative elements, and selection of top three awards. The peach color represents the jurors’ top three project choices.
The Summary column notes whether top choices are supported by rubric dat a (YES) or not (X).
Juror Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 G roup 4 Grou p 5 Group 6 Group 7 Group 8 Group 9 SUM MARY
1 iiii ii iiii iiii ii iii n/r iiii XX
ST> ST = 3 ST = 3 ST = 2 ST = 3 ST = 2 n/r ST < A ST = A
2 iiii iii iii n/r X
ST = 1 ST = 2 ST > A ST = 1 ST = 3 n/t ST = 1 ST> ST = 1
3 ii i ii iiii XX
ST> n/r ST < A ST = 1 ST = 2 ST< ST = 2 ST = 3 ST = 2
4 i i iiii YES
n/r ST = 2 ST < A ST< ST< ST = 2 ST = 1 ST<A n/r
5 iiii i ii ii iii YES, not 1st
ST> ST = 1 ST = 2 ST = 2 ST> ST< ST = 2 ST < A ST < A
6 iiii i i ii iii iiii ii YES
ST< ST = 2 ST = 3 ST = 3 ST< ST< ST< ST < A ST < A
7 i iiii iiii YES, not 3rd
ST = 1 ST> ST = 2/3 ST = 1 ST = 2 n/r ST = 1 ST> ST + 1/2
8 i ii iii iii ii iii iiii Yes, not 3/1
ST> n/r ST = 2 ST = 2 ST< ST< ST = 2 ST < A ST>
9 i iiii ii ii i YES, not 2nd
ST = 1 ST< ST = 3 ST< ST< ST > ST> n/r n/r
i = Creative element
X = place not justifie d
content analysis of jurors’ comments within the rater’s packets.
Three of the jurors had also been directly involved in the
classroom prior to their assessment of group projects: The ex-
ternal landscape architects each directed a classroom (abstract
or literal) charette, and the theater professor had led the discus-
sion and presentation on metaphorical elements in Tennessee
Williams’ life and works. (The literature professor who led the
literary group presentation on the milestones in Williams’ life
had a conflicting engagement and was unable to attend the jur-
ied presentation. We selected another literary scholar to replace
him.) Therefore, we also conducted a detailed analysis to see
whether professors and instructors with previous group in-
volvement had a tendency to rate their groups higher.
Rubric and Score Sheet Analysis
One of the first observations we made with the rater score
sheets was that they were often incomplete. Only 2 of the 9
jurors turned in completed score sheets for all groups; interest-
ingly, these jurors were the guest landscape architects who had
worked with the student groups prior to the juried presentation.
Many jurors did not fully rate certain groups’ projects, and
three jurors turned in empty score sheets for some groups. Ju-
rors were inconsistent in their scoring of individual elements as
well. While some projects were scored 1 - 3 on abstract and
storytelling elements, other projects were scored by the same
juror as “yes/no” for these elements. In fact, two jurors de-
faulted to yes/no responses in categories which required a 1 - 3
The two elements which were meant to distinguish the
treatment groups, storytelling (ST) and abstract (A) components,
did not discriminate between projects as we anticipated. Most
jurors rated these numbers as equivalent in the same project.
When there was a difference between them, it was not a con-
Congruence of Rubric and Juror Selections
When we compared each juror’s identified group winners
against his/her score sheets, we saw that not all jurors’ project
rubric scores matched their top three choices (Tables 1and 2).
Only two jurors, a landscape architect and a professor of floral
design, had rubric score sheets that justified their first, second,
and third design choices. Four of the jurors partially justified
their choices through rubric score sheets: one juror’s first place
choice was not supported by rubric scores, one juror’s second
place choice was not supported, one juror’s third place choice
was not supported, and one juror’s first and third choices were
R. M. CLARY ET AL.
not supported in their placement (the first and third scored pro-
jects were switched in the juror’s preference). Of the three re-
maining jurors, none of their top three project choices was
supported by rubric score sheets. One juror’s third place selec-
tion corresponded to a blank rubric score sheet.
When we investigated jurors’ assignments for groups’ ela-
boration, interpretation, and originality—those elements that
indicate divergent thinking and creativity (Guildford 1959,
1986, 1988; Wiggins & McTighe 2005)—we found that three
jurors who scored group projects’ high in these categories were
in complete agreement with their identification of the overall
projects as exceptional (Table 2). Three jurors’ scores on these
elements were in primary agreement for the projects they
scored as exceptional, but three jurors’ scores were in dis-
agreement with their identifications of exceptional projects.
Therefore, the inclusion of these rubric elements for measuring
creativity and divergent thinking appears to be a discriminating
one. Although we did not observe complete agreement among
jurors within scoring and/or interpreting these elements, the
trend appears to confirm the usefulness of the rubric for scoring
creative project solutions. Undoubtedly, the reliability of the
rubric was increased by the use of multiple jurors (Johnson et
Potential Impact of Juror Direct Involvement
One third of the jurors was previously involved with the
classroom groups: the landscape architects were each involved
with a classroom (literal and abstract), and the theater professor
was involved with the abstract treatment classroom (Table 1).
For the landscape architect involved with the abstract classroom,
two of his top three group choices emerged from the classroom
he was assisting: Both his first and third place group choices
were participants in the abstract classroom. For the landscape
architect involved with the literary classroom, two of his top
three choices also emerged from the classroom he assisted. (His
first and third place choices were literary treatment groups.)
The theater professor’s top three choices all came from within
the abstract treatment classroom. Although our population is
small, our case study research hints that perhaps jurors who are
involved with treatment groups tend to score these groups
higher. However, it also appears that jurors recognized a good
project solution, regardless of what their design emphasis might
Discussion and Implications
When we combined our rubric analysis with content analysis
of jurors’ comments, four persistent themes emerged: 1) Most
jurors did not fully understand the rubric’s use, including the
difference between dichotomous categories and scored topics; 2)
Jurors were in agreement that 6 of the 11 projects scored were
outstanding submissions; 3) Jurors who had directly worked
with a classroom were more likely to score that class’ groups
higher; and 4) Most jurors, with the exception of two raters,
scored the abstract treatment group projects as higher and more
The design class instructors and the educational researcher
worked closely with the educational psychologist to design the
rubric that would effectively measure the creativity and diver-
gent elements of the submitted group projects. Although there
was not perfect agreement among jurors’ scores, the creative
and divergent elements that were measured in the rubric aligned
completely (33%) and primarily (33%) with the majority of
jurors’ selected top projects. Only with one-third of jurors did
the rubric fail to measure the projects with highest creativity
(that it was designed to do). Therefore, given that rubrics typi-
cally do not produce consistently aligned scores among all rat-
ers (Shores & Weseley, 2007; Johnson et al., 2000), our find-
ings indicate that the rubric designed for this project was still an
effective measuring device.
Consistent Use of Rubric as a Creati v it y Assessmen t
Our analysis also indicates that the majority of jurors did not
fully understand the rubric, or were inconsistent in their use of
it as an assessment tool. Although we trained jurors with the
rubric prior to its use, our efforts did not appear to sufficient for
consistency among all jurors. Time does not appear to be a
factor in our case study, as jurors were provided time after the
presentations to meet with individual groups and clarify their
understanding (and rating) of a specific project. It is also puz-
zling that some jurors completely abandoned their rubric score
sheets when deciding their top three projects. There appear to
be additional criteria for choosing these projects that were not
made evident in the rubric, or by jurors’ additional comments
on score sheets.
Implications for Assessin g Creativ e Ou tcomes and
We think that our results indicate that a more intensive in-
troduction of the rubric is warranted before its use as an as-
sessment tool. It might be an effective use of time to expose
jurors to a test design example, and then have jurors score the
project in a “trial run”. This may help clarify the intent of the
categories, and whether or not rubric elements require a scaled
(1 - 3) ranking, or a dichotomous response. Although our case
study population is small, the tendency of jurors to rate higher
the groups with whom they have previously interacted may
indicate potential bias (Shores & Weseley, 2007). Conversely,
these tentative results may support the choices of the research-
ers: The jurors may not have been scoring their student groups
higher as much as they were scoring a design position that was
congruent with their professional worldview. More research is
needed to determine whether previous exposure to student
groups significantly influences project scores.
In this case study, the rubric appears to be an appropriate tool
for scoring creative projects, although it was not completely
utilized as it was intended. The storytelling and abstract ele-
ment categories, designed to separate abstract and narrative
products, had little effect on jurors’ scores. However, the use of
the rubric, coupled with multiple assessors, resulted in the fairly
consistent identification of superior design solutions. The ma-
jority of jurors’ scores on creative elements were within perfect
or primary agreement with their exceptional project identifica-
tion, and jurors effectively identified the same six projects as
outstanding. Moreover, 7 of the 9 jurors scored the abstract
group’s projects as higher in creativity; our previous analysis
(Fulford et al., in press) suggested that these projects did, in fact,
have a greater concentration of abstract and metaphorical ele-
ments than the group projects that emerged from the literal
classroom. This indicates that the rubric overall did what it was
designed to do, and helped in the identification of creative ele-
ments within the projects.
R. M. CLARY ET AL. 339
The researchers wish to thank Dr. Donna Gainer for analyz-
ing students’ TypeFocusTM results and assigning equitable
groups for this project. We also appreciate Dr. Gainer’s exper-
tise and efforts in working with us to customize the rubric for
assessment of creative solutions. We also thank Mr. Gordon
Lackey for assisting with this project, which included the tran-
scription of the literal and abstract presentations to the student
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Appendix A. Rubric and Score Sheet for the Tennessee Williams Park
Level one Level two Level three
Naïve: a superficial account, more implicit
than analytical or explanatory, sketchy ac-
count of experience; less a theory than an
unexami ned hunch or borrowed ideas.
Developed: an account that reflects
some in-depth and personalized reflec-
tion; making a thinking process that is
their own; going beyond the given.
Sophisticated: an unusually thorough,
explanatory, and inventive account;
fully supported, verified, and justi-
fied; deep a nd broad.
Design Concept Guiding idea is basically explained Guiding idea is well written and con-
ceived wi th so me allusion to form
Guiding idea is rich and novel, com-
pelling statement that leads to strong
Simplistic or superficial; no interpretation
A decoding with no interpretation; no sense
of wider significance
A plausible storyline with clear details
A helpful interpretation of analysis of
the sign ificance or meaning of cognitive
A well structured storyline with rich
details and imagery; provides a de-
A powerful and illuminating interpre-
tation and analysis; tells a rich and
insightful account of cognition through
reflection; sees deeply
Elaboration Some details or ideas Expanded details or ideas Rich imagery and elabor ate detail s
Forms/Structures Forms have basic expression for selection;
little expans i on Forms chosen for design are well se-
lected to reinforce original concept Forms are complex or novel and
excellently reflect the guiding idea
Originality/Novelty Commonplace ide a s and expected usage Unusual ideas and elements Sophisticated: an unusually complex
and rich approach, far outside the
Rating Scale Score Sheet Name_____________
Group Number Adq 1 Good 2 Superio r 3 Yes No
TN Williams Life details included
Story telling elements
TN Williams Works deta i l s i n cluded
Story telling elements
Use of site is appropriate
Vegetation a nd Faunal Elements
Infrastructure and maintenance
Access and circulation issues
Express mai n id ea
Originality/Novelty of Design
Non-shade d i tems rate 1, 2, 3 using rubric
Shaded items check Yes or No