Monthly Archives: April 2015

Assessing the 4 C’s in World Languages?

This post first appeared here on Edutopia.


At my school we are discussing how we might fit all our assessments under the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills – communication, critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Why? Because these four skills are our school-wide learning outcomes, and we want to see how we can make them more clear for students. We’re trying hard to be more serious about these expected learning outcomes for our students.

It seems faily clear how World Languages fits under communication. Our national and state-level standards all aim at supporting students to achieve proficiency in a second language, in three modes of communication, oral and written production, i. e., interpretive communication (reading, viewing and listening for understanding), interpersonal communication (speaking and writing in two-way formats), and presentational communication (both speaking and writing to an audience). We have lots of rubrics to assess and guide students toward these outcomes, and according to proficiency levels – novice, intermediate and advanced. Accordingly, the biggest percentage of our grading system will aim at communication outcomes.

We also understand collaboration fairly well. We have students work together on projects, often in PBLL-aligned units, as well as in other small groups, and we have developed rubrics to guide students to demonstrate leadership and initiative, individual responsibility, and facilitation and support. We have already had some good success with these rubrics.

What about how to assess critical thinking and the creative process? We engage students often in inquiry-based learning, and ask them to create projects wherein they demonstrate critical and creative thinking as applied to their products. We do not have many grades in these two categories, however, so we feel as though it may be somewhat contrived to have separate categories for them.

The rub is this: what else do you think is worth assessing vis-à-vis these two particular skills in a World Language curriculum? What percentage of a student’s grade would you consider reasonable to devote to critical thinking and creativity? What’s more, are there other things you would want to include in an overall grading system which are not really classifiable under the four C’s? If so, what are they? We have some ideas, but we’re quite curious to know what you think as well.

So World Language gurus, we would love to hear your ideas. We’re trying to make this work, but we’re not yet sure how to solve the puzzle. Help us figure it out!

Looking forward to your comments, so until then, cheers!