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OUR PUBLICATIONS > Progression in Creativity: developing new forms of assessment

CCE Research

Progression in Creativity: developing new forms of assessment

April 24, 2012

Authors: Ellen Spencer, Bill Lucas and Guy Claxton

Institution: Centre for Real World Learning, University of Winchester

Full reference: Spencer, E., Lucas, B. and Claxton, G. (2012). Progression in Creativity: developing new forms of assessment – Final Research Report. Newcastle: CCE

Summary of key findings

In Spring 2011, Creativity, Culture and Education (CCE) commissioned the Centre for Real-World Learning (CRL) at The University of Winchester to undertake research to establish the viability of creating an assessment framework for tracking the development of young people’s creativity in schools.

After reviewing the literature on creativity and its assessment, and consulting expert practitioners, CRL created a framework for developing creativity in schools, and derived an assessment tool to trial in schools.

This tool comprised of 5 habits and 15 sub-habits of creativity:

  1. Inquisitive (wondering and questioning, exploring and investigating, challenging assumptions)
  2. Persistent (sticking with difficulty, daring to be different, tolerating uncertainty)
  3. Imaginative (playing with possibilities, making connections, using intuition)
  4. Collaborative (sharing the product, giving and sharing feedback, cooperating appropriately)
  5. Disciplined (developing techniques, reflecting critically, crafting and improving)

Through two separate field trials the research suggested that the framework was sufficiently distinct from existing approaches to creativity to be useful and that from a teacher point of view, the framework was both rigorous and plausible.

The principal findings were that:

  1. The concept of an assessment framework for creativity in schools is valid and relevant. There was a strong sense among teachers that our framework encompassed a learnable set of dispositions. There are strong grounds for now seeking to develop a more sophisticated prototype, of use to teachers and learners, to track the development of creativity in schools.
  2. The framework should initially focus on the 5-14 age range, although some practitioners may find it useful with younger and older pupils.
  3. The evidence suggests that the primary use of any assessment framework will be formative, supporting pupils to harness more of their creativity and helping teachers more effectively to cultivate creative dispositions in the young people they teach.

In the process of validation with experts, creative practitioners and teachers, a number of other important issues were raised. Most notable of these was a strong sense of reluctance by teachers to make summative judgments about the level of creativity in their pupils, and the researchers found no appetite among teachers for a paper-and-pencil, summative creativity instrument in schools. Measuring creativity, for teachers, would appear to be a fundamentally different task from measuring literacy or even assessing performance in the creative arts. The researchers address this and other issues in this report.

As a result of this work, it is the firmly held belief of the CRL research team that the refining of a formative assessment tool to assist pupils in the pursuit of ‘growing’ their creativity could be of great value. The next step would seem to be the development of a more sophisticated prototype. While this study demonstrated effectively a ‘proof of concept’, for the tool to be formatively useful across the age ranges, there is more research to be done concerning effective styles of moderation and of the development of more effective criteria to chart progression.

Recommendations for further development include:

  • Maintaining the emphasis on the learnability of creativity;
  • Development of training materials and ‘best practice’ resources for teachers;
  • Incorporating the tool into schools’ reporting systems;
  • Separation of the sub-habits back into three distinct sub-habits;
  • Scrutinising language and selecting a clearly legible printed font;
  • Developing best practice;
  • Developing a more formative tool to point pupils to areas for development;
  • Capturing ‘breadth’ more systematically in the tool;
  • Developing a more systematic evidence collection process;
  • Developing the tool for the virtual environment; and
  • Trialling the tool with the ‘unconverted’.

Research Questions & Methodology

Research and development work for this project ran from the summer term of the academic year 2010/11 and culminated in a final analysis of data in the spring term of 2011/12.

The research and development work with teachers in this project was a ‘proof of concept’ activity guided by three overarching questions:

  1. Is it possible to create an assessment instrument that teachers find useful (the proof of concept)?
  2. Would any framework be useable across the entire age span of formal education?
  3. If a framework is to be useful to teachers and pupils, what approach to assessment should it adopt?

Five phases of the research:

Literature review summarised in section 2 of the report (the full version is available as part of the CCE Literature Review Series)

  1. User perspectives gathered through interviews and an ‘appreciative inquiry’ session with teaches and practitioners
  2. Conceptual development – a draft framework was created, based on the first two phases of the research
  3. Field Trial 1 in six schools to test teachers’ views and use of the draft framework
  4. Field Trial 2 in 12 schools to test teachers and young people’s use of the draft framework

Read the Report