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Assessing creativity

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein

The final result is that technology aids our thoughts and civilized lives, but it also provides a mind-set that artificially elevates some aspects of life and ignores others, not based upon their real importance but rather by the arbitrary condition of whether they can be measured scientifically and objectively by today’s tools. Donald Norman

Adobe recently released a study, Creativity and Education: Why It Matters. (Thanks to Ryan Bretag's Metanoia blog for the heads up). Here are some interesting bits of this little survey:

  • 78% of survey respondents believe creativity is important to their current career
  • 88% believe creativity should be built into education curriculum
  • 94% agreed with the statement "It is important for educators to encourage creative thinking in their students



but here are the scary bits....

  • 80% of education majors (vs. 54% of engineering majors) believe "creativity is a skill you are born with"
  • 47% felt there is enough opportunity in school for students to demonstrate creativity
  • 41% felt academic test scores are the best indicators for success in school and beyond

Why the disconnect? Why doesn't every educator stress creativity in every lesson?

Might it be because we as educators are uncomfortable asking students to demonstrate something that we cannot objectively measure? I have a lot of fun doing my workshop Developing Creativity in Every Learner, but one area always makes me feel, well, inadequate.

Even if we ask for creativity, how do we know we've gotten it? I do believe defining creativity is a part of the solution - that not only should one recognize originality, but also the degree to which that originality improves the outcome. When I asked this question last spring, the response were interesting, but not real useful. What would a rubric, checklist or narrative assessment look like that helped determine whether creativity was demonstrated? Or is this even a valid question? Do we need "measure" creativity or simply accept it as something, as Einstein would define it, as something that counts that can't be measured? 

Inquiring minds want to know. Do you have an assessment tool you'd be willing to share with Blue Skunk readers that addresses creativity?

Developing Creativity in Every Learner” Library Media Connection, October, 2012

"A Father-So Chat" (using CreativeCommons licenses with students) Head for the Edge, Library Media Connection, November 2007

Ten Ways to Encourage Creativity in Your Library” Head for the Edge, Library Media Connection, October, 2012

Image source: Creativity and Education: Why It Matters.


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Reader Comments (2)

Some of these results really are quite surprising, looking at the number of people surveyed, does anybody else believe that 1,000 people is too small of a sample for this type of study? Thoughts/opinions?

November 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew Harper

Hi Matthew,

The sample size struck me a being somewhat small as well, but I am not a statistician so I don't know what size would give you reliability.


November 21, 2012 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

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