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Assessing Creativity: A Guide for Educators

Donald J. Treffinger
Grover C. Young
Edwin C. Selby
Cindy Shepardson

This monograph deals specifically with the challenge of recognizing or assessing creativity. It is intended for teachers, program coordinators, administrators, counselors, or researchers who are concerned with such questions as, "Can creativity be measured?" "What assessment tools are available to assist us in recognizing creativity in students?" or "How might we evaluate and compare various ways of assessing creativity?" These questions are often posed by researchers interested in studying creativity and by educators concerned with identifying creative talent or evaluating the effectiveness of program goals involving creativity. The primary goals of the monograph are to:

  • provide information about the nature of creativity;
  • identify many key characteristics and indicators of creativity as expressed among elementary, middle, and high school students;
  • examine ways to locate, evaluate, select, and use instruments that are helpful in assessing those characteristics;
  • identify and review many existing creativity assessment resources;
  • suggest some important considerations in linking assessment with instructional programming.

The monograph includes an introduction and four additional chapters, dealing with definitions and characteristics; reviewing, evaluating, selecting, and using instruments; a design and plan for systematic assessment; and linking assessment and instruction.

The initial chapter on definitions and characteristics provides information to help clarify the nature and meaning of "creativity and creative thinking," and to consider the implications of those definitions for assessment. The chapter also reviews and synthesizes the literature regarding the personal characteristics associated with the construct of creativity, since these characteristics provide the foundation for assessment tools. The next chapter defines and clarifies important basic principles and terms in educational assessment and relates them specifically to the challenge of assessing creativity. It also provides a practical set of criteria for reviewing and evaluating instruments and presents basic principles to guide the wise and appropriate use of creativity assessment instruments. Chapter IV presents a matrix to guide systematic efforts to assess creativity in students, involving four major sources of assessment data and four specific levels of present performance in relation to creativity. The final chapter explores possible implications of creativity assessment and our specific assessment plan for effective, differentiated instructional planning; it also identifies important directions for future reading and study for anyone interested in creativity assessment and instruction.

Reference:
Treffinger, D. J., Young, G. C., Selby, E. C., & Shepardson C.(2002). Assessing creativity: A guide for educators (RM02170). Storrs, CT: The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut.


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Assessing Creativity: A Guide for Educators
Donald J. Treffinger
Grover C. Young
Edwin C. Selby
Cindy Shepardson


Conclusions

  1. Adopt a specific definition of creativity and be clear about its implications for the characteristics you plan to assess.
  2. Examine and review carefully assessment tools, representing several different sources of data, that may be appropriate for the definition and characteristics, for your setting, and for the students you will be assessing. Use only resources that meet professional standards for practice.
  3. Remember that the purpose of the assessment is to understand the student's needs for appropriate and challenging educational experience. Think beyond the question of what the student "is" or "is not;" instead, ask: "What do these data tell us about the student's need for services?"
  4. Consider the best way to provide the services that seem necessary for the student. Is it through your gifted/talented program? Is it through other ways of responding that might be open to you?