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Playful assessment and learning with MIT

As a part of its relationship with MIT, the Woodrow Wilson Graduate School uses versions of games and tools designed by MIT researchers. It’s a great collaboration: The WW Graduate Schoolgets access to resources and practice spaces that better align with the innovative structure of its curriculum and assessment, while the MIT labs gain another place to test and refine their theories.

As a competency- and challenge-based master’s program, the WW Graduate School isn’t relying on traditional assessment methods to measure the progress teacher candidates are making. Similarly, MIT’s Teaching Systems Lab (TSL) is looking into ways to build “playful assessment” tools that better gauge skills like creativity and agency, which get overlooked by standardized tests. Out of this particular line of research came a new design tool, MetaRubric, that encourages teachers to look differently at the way they create rubrics—that is, the lists of expectations on which they grade student work.

“MetaRubric encourages teachers to engage in iterative assessment design processes and to invite students to participate playfully as co-designers,” says Yoon Jeon Kim, a research scientist at MIT’s TSL and the project director of the MIT and WW Graduate School collaboration.


WW Graduate School teacher candidates have played MetaRubric as a way of thinking about building assessments in their clinical and future classrooms—a valuable way to practice and think critically about measuring student growth.

“Metarubric is an awesome way to think creatively and collaboratively about something that usually feels like a chore,” says teacher candidate Jane Strauch. “It really helped me think through how to make rubrics usable because you build one and immediately try it out.”

“I think it has great potential for use with teachers,” says teacher candidate Lucinda Robinson. “Metarubric forces you to think about an overall picture of success before thinking about the components that make up success. It can take rubrics from being a last-minute add-on to something that helps us communicate with our students what we’re asking of them.”

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