ResearchCreativity TrainingEnglish

The Efficacy of Teaching Creativity: Assessment of Student Creative Thinking Before and After Exercises

Autors: Elena Karpova, Sara B. Marcketti, Jessica Barker


As the global environment becomes increasingly more turbulent and competitive, creativity becomes the focus when preparing current students and future citizens to deal with uncertainty and to adapt to continuous change both personally and professionally.

The purpose of the study was to understand how student creative thinking could be increased in a university classroom. Creativity exercises that can be incorporated in various courses were developed. The exercises formed four learning modules: (a) what is creativity, (b) recognizing and identifying opportunities, (c) generating ideas, and (d) evaluating creative ideas.

Four instructors administered the exercises in five courses. To evaluate effectiveness of the training, figural format of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) was used to assess student creative thinking before and after completion of the exercises. Creative thinking, which was operationalized as the composite Creativity Index measured by the TTCT, was significantly higher for the total group of participants after completion of the creativity exercises than before the training.

Individual class analyses showed that students in four of the five participating classes had significantly higher creative thinking after completion of the exercises. The study demonstrates that by incorporating creativity exercises into existing courses, instructors can help students develop creative thinking —a critical aspect of one’s professional development.


The purpose of this research was to assess effectiveness of creativity training by measuring student creative thinking before and after implementation of creativity exercises. The exercises were a systematic approach designed to help students experience and practice non-traditional ways of thinking to identify opportunities, to create, to evaluate, and to promote their ideas. The exercises utilized both interactive and experiential learning approaches. Three instructors administered twelve exercises over the course of 8-12 weeks in a semester. The time required for the exercises varied from 5 to 20 minutes per activity. Some exercises were individual, others were team-based. Students received no credit for completing the exercises.


To assess creativity, figural format of the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking (TTCT) was used (Torrance, 1966 & 1999). TTCT, translated into 35 languages, is a widely used test of creativity in the educational field and in the corporate world (Kim, 2006). The test measures divergent thinking and is appropriate for different ages, from kindergarten to adults. It is a timed assessment, which consists of three drawing activities (Picture Construction, Picture Completion, and Lines/Circles). Also, participants provide titles for their drawings. The test is available in two forms (A and B) to assess participants’ creativity at two times. For our purposes, we administered form A of the TTCT right before administering the exercises and form B during the week following the completion of the training. Four classes were selected for the study. One of the classes was a learning community orientation course. Three other classes were fashion design courses: two sections of an introductory patternmaking course and an advance patternmaking course. A total of 89 students were enrolled in the classes at the beginning of the project.

The publisher of the TTCT scored the tests (Scholastic Testing Services, n.d.). Each test was scored on five dimensions of creativity (fluency, originality, elaboration, resistance to premature closure, titles) and then a standardized score for creativity index was calculated. T-tests indicate that for the total group of students participated in the study the creativity index after the exercises was significantly higher than before the training.


Individual class analyses demonstrate that in three of the four participating classes, the creativity index increased significantly after completion of the creativity exercises. Specifically, there was a significant increase in creativity in the learning community orientation course. Interestingly, the means of the creativity increased significantly for two of the three patternmaking courses. There was no significant increase in creativity in one section of the introductory patternmaking course. This result indicates that it is important to account for personal and contextual characteristics, such as motivational and attitudinal predispositions of participants, which may influence the outcomes of creativity training.

This research supports previous findings that ability to think creatively can be increased as the result of training (e.g., Birdi, 2005; Clapham, 1997). Our study demonstrates that after completing creativity exercises, students produced larger amount of ideas and these ideas were more original. Because creativity is such an important key to success in today’s rapidly changing world, our results suggest that creativity exercises may be useful for increasing students’ divergent thinking abilities. This finding has implications for instructors who want to nurture student creative skills in the courses they teach, regardless of the subject matter. Future research will examine the effect of creativity training over a longer period of time in a longitudinal study by assessing creative thinking of the students who participated in this project.


Karpova, Elena E.; Marcketti, Sara B.; and Barker, Jessica, “The Efficacy of Teaching Creativity: Assessment of Student Creative Thinking Before and After Exercises” (2011). , Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA,

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