Gift Wrapping Creativity in the Classroom

For an article review, let us look at theIMG_0762 article, “Novel, effective, whole: Toward a NEW framework for evaluations of creative products,” by Danah Henriksen, Punya Mishra, and Rohit Mehta. As it turns out, this article is not available online through UNCW where I am taking classes. UNCW has hard copies of the journal, and the library was closed at this writing. Instead of waiting for the library to open, I looked further. I put the title in a scholarly Google search and got two hits. The top hit was a link to where I could purchase the article. Below that link there was a link to a pdf of the complete article. I was willing to read this article, but I was not so willing to site the link until I realized that the link came from one of the two authors of the article, Punya Minshra, at Michigan State University. As there were no restrictions stated on his site, I sited the article via that link, and I did not need to visit the library.

This twenty-four-page article is about the assessment of creativity. The article makes four points. The authors recognize a lack of assessment instruments available to measure creativity in the classroom. They devised a clear definition of creativity using the acronym NEW for novel, effective, and whole. They used that definition as the basis for a Likert scale rubric, and finally, the authors provided examples of creativity demonstrate the rubric.

The authors described novel as fresh, unique, startling, pioneering, and trendsetting, among other things.

They described effective as valuable, significant, necessary, logical, appropriate, and useful.

They described whole as organic, organized, complex, meaningful, intricate, graceful, and clear.

Together, these elements are presented as guidelines. They create a leveled framework in which to identify creativity when creativity needs to be identified. The rubric is meant to set clear standards of quality in terms of creativity. I have touched on this in my own class over the past few years when I encourage my students to score double points when they make comments in class by staying relevant to score “teacher points” and being funny to score “classmate points.” The authors pointed out that context is key to the value and quality of creativity expressed. Scoring creativity must involve an awareness of the context which includes relevance to the topic at hand and sensitive to the players involved.

My comment about this challenge to find a way to assess creativity, even though the notion of boxing up creativity to assess it is ironic, is that it still makes sense, and I believe it can be applied almost too easily to the classroom. I believe we need to be careful about how we apply the assessment. When first applying the creativity rubric, it ought to be a student choice or just a teacher’s suggestion, because the drive to be creative could easily distract students from the context of the assignment or activity. From informal observation it seems that funny and creative are tightly linked in the young learner’s mind. In order to actually promote creativity, teachers may need to encourage creativity and be ready to respond to student creativity with a relevant assessment such as this assessment when the creativity is a culmination of clear and measured thought. Students work up to creativity. To be used correctly, this assessment needs to be a vehicle that provides feedback about how a student’s work is creative and not about how it is not. A creativity assessment, too soon, will creates a negative stigma too easily for those who are struggling to master the material. That is where creative teachers come in. When students present assignments creatively, it is as if they are presenting a gift of value. When teachers are able to clearly describe why the work is creative using this assessment, it is as if the teacher is carefully gift wrapping the work, and returning the value back to the student with respect.

Henriksen, D., Mishra, P., & Mehta, R. (2015). Journal of Technology and Teacher Education23.3, 455. Retrieved from