Creating a Vision of Creativity: the First 25 Years

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Creating a Vision of Creativity: The First 25 Years – Robert J Sternberg

In this APA Journal article, Sternberg searches for the reasons that we think creatively and how to develop the creative mind. Dr. Sternberg’s research began on this topic in 1979. His approach on the study of creativity is rather creative in and of itself. He has kept an open mind and developed new questions into how we think creatively. It seems that the object of his work is to help people by finding out what works best for each individual. The article is divided into three stages that explore 1.) Creative Intelligence, 2.)The Investment Theory of Creativity and 3.)Creative Leadership. Sternberg discusses his approaches in his quest since 1979. I will attempt to give a brief but thorough summary of the article.

Creative Intelligence - Sternberg’s early attempts at measuring intelligence involved simple tests that demonstrated problem solving capabilities. He found this focus too narrow and added the elements of practical and creative thinking and developed what he called the “Triarchic Theory of Intelligence(Sternberg, 1984, 1985)”. Later he studied “Successful Intelligence (Sternberg, 1997a, 1999a)”. Successful Intelligence refers to compensating for one’s weaknesses as well as using one’s strengths in order to be successful. He looked for other kinds of tests that would push people’s abilities to deal with novel ideas. He would use counterfactuals. In other words, he would use substitute words for objects, colors and other stimuli and have people solve problems based on these non-real words or phrases. The idea was to get people out of their conventional way of thinking and still have to solve a problem, testing the abilities of the mind to cope with a different environment.

Sternberg, along with colleagues from the University of Michigan Business School attempted to add measuring creative intelligence to the SAT. They called it the “Rainbow Project”. The test itself was called the “Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test (STAT; Sternberg, 1993)”. The idea was to use novel approaches and measure it within the context of the SAT. The creative areas touched on were verbal, quantitative and figural. Again, substitution was the key factor. Students would essentially be thrown into an alternate universe of words and have to deal with problems. The results did not seem to be very accurate but within acceptable standards. Sternberg also used a battery of creative performance tests. Using cartoons, written stories and oral stories. Collectively, the data seems to have met a fair measure of accuracy in predicting GPA for the college students who participated.

One of the purposes of the research was to find ways to reduce group differences on tests. Sternberg’s group would measure performance data from different groups in an attempt to make the tests more balanced by posing questions that would reduce group differences in performance related testing. The research suggests it is possible to reduce the differences in scores on performance based tests between different ethnic groups and genders.

Sternberg performed Instructional Studies in an attempt to find out if creative thinkers were discriminated against in the standard school system. This research is interesting in that it showed that creative thinkers were a much more ethnically diverse population than analytical thinkers. He believes there should be a broader idea of what constitutes intelligence. Practical and creative thinkers were shown to do better than analytical thinkers in some contexts. People who were taught the way that they think are shown to be more successful. Since most teaching comes from an analytical approach, Sternberg’s research showsthat creative and practical thinkers are not being served as good as they could be by the education system. This was shown to be true as Sternberg, along with colleagues, introduced Triarchic thinking into classroom curriculum and creative...
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