The inclusion of dance education in public schools has stimulated lengthy debate over how to: evaluate the arts; define and justify dance’s existence within an education system, and create meaningful experiences for students. With the 1997 inclusion of the arts as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), or The Nation’s Educational Report Card, major steps have been taken to formalize arts assessment and overcome traditional standardized testing protocol. Educators have had the difficult task of capturing, what is in essence, an intangible area of study; moving product, gone as quickly as it was created.
The question of what dance assessment entails and how a teacher can develop evaluation methods that contribute to student success, is constantly evolving. When effective, this can provide a basis from which meaningful dialogue can surface between student and teacher. Evident from literature, assessment, for progressive learning in the arts, involves gathering evidence with the objective of discovering learner potential for exceptional achievement, versus under-achievement. When constructed and executed properly, assessment links learning to society and makes a substantial impact on a student’s self-motivation to learn. It also identifies a student’s strengths and guides their improvement while cultivating individual experiences. Thoughtful assessment aims to give students the opportunity to be evaluated from vast perspectives, over an extended period of time; in order to chart growth. This also provides educators the simultaneous advantage to validate dance’s positive effects within a scholastic curriculum and give further educational dimension to dance studio training.
The key however, is to not over assess and only implement measures which make sense and aren't governed by the mentality of "assessing just to asses." They should be warranted, meaningful and give the student an earnest, transparent sense of how to progress with long term results. Below, I'm sharing with dance educators a reading list I have found most helpful throughout the years in terms of understanding what assessment in the arts entails and how to designing measures which makes sense to us as dancers! Good luck!
See you in the dance studio,
Alter, J. B. (2002). Self-appraisal and pedagogical practices: Performance-based assessment approaches. Dance Research Journal, 34(2), 79-95.
Anderson, L. W., Krathwohl, D. R. & Bloom, B. (2001). The cognitive process dimension. In A taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: A revision of Bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives (pp. 63-91). New York: Longman.
Brookfield, S. D. (1995). Becoming a critically reflective teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Eisner, E. W. (1994). The educational imagination: On the design and evaluation of school programs. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Hong, C. (2006). Unlocking dance and assessment for better learning. In P. Taylor (Ed.), Assessment in arts education (pp. 27-37). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
McCutcheon, B. P. (2006). Examining how national arts initiatives affect dance. In Teaching dance as art in education (pp. 23-41). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Mirus, J., White, E., Bucek, L. E. & Paulson, P. (1996). Dance education initiative curriculum guide. Golden Valley, MN: Perpich Center for Arts Education.
Ross, J. (1994). The right moves: Challenges of dance assessment. Arts Education Policy Review, 96(1), 11.
Stiggins, R. (2000). Student-involved classroom assessment (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.
Warburton, E. C. (2006). Evolving modes of assessing dance: In search of transformative dance assessment. In P. Taylor (Ed.), Assessment in arts education (pp. 3-26). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Wiggins, G. P. (1993). Assessment worthy of the liberal arts. In Assessing student performance: Exploring the purpose and limits of testing (pp. 34- 71). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass