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Assessing Expressive Learning: A Practical Guide for Teacher-directed Authentic Assessment in K-12 Visual Arts Education

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Assessing Expressive Learning was inspired by the concerns of its authors
that thinking about and making art should remain one of the principal goals of Art
Education in K–12 American schools. Furthermore, K–12 art teachers should be
considered the ones most qualified to answer the question of what it is that children
should know and be able to do in K–12 art as a result of their matriculation in the school
art program.

Pressures from both within and outside the school in recent times have led
some to question whether the goals of art learning should remain anchored to children
being actively engaged in forming expressive objects of meaning or move more toward
viewing the student as an active participant in an art world that makes art possible
through a legitimizing theory where art is considered a production in a battleground for
power struggles. What has further exacerbated this situation is efforts at national
school reforms requiring the assessment of K–12 learning through standardized paperand-
pencil, true-false, and multiple choice tests.

The principal goals of this effort were, therefore, to reaffirm the notion that the
artworks created by students are objects of meaning that reflect artistic valuing and
aesthetic intents that provide sensory perception and appreciation because they involve
elements of human motivation and interactions between the student and his or her
environment. What this effort reinforces is the need for students to be involved in
artistic forming where culturally differentiated experience does not contradict the
universal features of art and the art experience and where psychological involvement in
the work seeks to qualify the relationships between the student and the art object.
Furthermore, the project was designed to support school art experiences that contribute
to the enrichment of conscious life experience through providing meaning on a symbolic
level and affectively through feelings that contribute to the enrichment of sensory
competence and cognitive enrichment.
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