How Do You Quantify “Creativity” In Your Class?

How do you go about quantifying “creativity” or “innovation” for projects?

As I go about trying to make my curriculum more “project-based” I’m running into trouble coming up with ways to assess the students’ work. One of the goals of “project-based learning” seems to be to encourage creativity and innovation in how the students go about their learning. I’m finding it hard to quantify “creativity” and “innovation” in a grade. What is an “A” level of creativity versus a “B” level of creativity? The grading of essays and tests from last year were easily marked “correct” or “incorrect”. Grading becomes more subjective when “creativity” is as important as “having correctly conjugated the verbs”. I find it hard to justify my “A” creativity grade versus an “A-” creativity grade to a parent or a student.

Declaring “creativity” as right or wrong does not make sense. Determining one project to be “more creative” than another project also doesn’t seem like the right way to go about determining the grade. Or is it? We are trying to teach these kids to be “globally competitive” and an employer/consumer will ultimately decide whether “Person A” is more creative than “Person B”. This gets tricky though because what one employer/consumer sees as “creative or innovative” may vary greatly from the opinion of a different employer/consumer.

As a teacher, I feel like objectivity relates closely to the legitimacy of my grading policy. However, objectivity in the job market isn’t reality. How do you encourage creative risk taking? How do you quantify the value of the risk that person has taken? How do you quantify the “creative success” of the risk that someone has taken? Students also differ in abilities in strengths. Can you set up an objective standard for the subjective skill of creativity?

I assume we want students of all abilities to strive towards creative solutions to their problems. To develop a desire for creativity, we also seem to need to allow students of all abilities to taste success. One student’s “A” on a creativity grade might differ greatly from another kid’s “A” on a creativity grade. Grades may also differ depending on the teacher’s opinion on what is “creative” and ultimately what an employer/consumer would think is “creative”. How do you resolve these problems?

If I end up deciding that someone has “gotten an A in creativity” it also does not seem to push them to reach to be more creative the next time around. That said, implying that a student can be “more creative” implies that there is a quantitative amount of “creativity” in a project…

If there was one “A” given in the class with the goal of getting the students motivated to be “the most creative”, then you could see a couple students getting this grade for each project assigned and thus marginalizing the rest of the class.

Bonuses, promotions, sales results, etcetera will quantify “creativity” outside of school. How can we quantify these important skills inside the academic world? How can we motivate students to find “creative solutions”? How are you addressing these issues in your classroom? What suggestions can you share with me? Thanks for your help.

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6 thoughts on “How Do You Quantify “Creativity” In Your Class?

  1. I teach middle school technology with lots of projects. I don’t usually grade creativity but try to encourage it. I recognize it as anytime a student tries something different than everyone else. I don’t try to rate or grade it but point out to them and the class that they are innovating and trying something new.

    What I have recently discovered is the power of audience via youtube as a motivator. I blogged about it here http://concretekax.blogspot.com/2009/10/youtube-as-bulletin-board-for-student.html
    The students received no extra points or grade for this work but did it of their own choice and even outside of class. I believe that choice and interesting problems promote creativity more than grades.

  2. Creativity should be encouraged. However there needs to be a metric that determines whether or not the problem at hand was solved and to what degree. This will fine tune critical thinking.

    Even in the arts there needs to be significant training in technical skill to maximize creative impact. Thelonius Monk was an extremely skilled pianist before developing his own style. Picasso, Mozart, even Michael Jackson was a technical choreographic genius.

  3. If you want to decrease creativity all you need to do is start grading it.

    If you want to increase creativity, increase motivation. Motivated kids create without the need to quantify the outcome.

  4. These are all questions that I am currently wrestling with. I am currently studying for an MA in Creative & Media Education and my current is on creativity. I am looking at similar issues but perhaps more to do with how we actually teach creativity. I think that a major problem is that we are unable to to disassociate the product from the creative process. As educators we are so focused on targets and league tables that it becomes difficult to change the mindset. As part of my project I am creating a documentary aimed at teachers that explores the creative process with creative practitioners. You can see a very rough edit of the first few minutes here http://blip.tv/dashboard/episode/2818325
    I would be interested to hear your thoughts

  5. Creativity has a critical thinking component that can not be ignored. As students embark on a project it helps if they have an idea for what strategies they have used to generate and focus on the ideas they meant to convey. In doing this the begin to define specific goals and objectives for their project. How well they meet their personal objectives will also reveal how much thought and creativity was put into the project.
    We can’t expect students to understand the creative process unless they have had some clear instruction in creative problem solving strategies. Corporations and business’ are well acquainted with these processes but they are not typically taught in schools and need to be.

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