Creativity is, if it can be assessed, if it

Creativity is a much discussed and debated topic in music education today. Researchers have explored what it is, if it can be assessed, if it can affect (or is attached to) other areas of academic study, and if it can be taught. Creativity has been explored quantitatively, qualitatively, historically and philosophically. Much of this research into creativity was brought about by the 1994 National Standards for Arts Education decision to include improvisation and composition (Consortium of National Arts Education Associations). The No Child Left Behind research-based assessments makes exploration of the content and context of creativity as important than ever (Moran, 2005).

This document represents an exploration into the research based on definitions and measurements of creativity in music education from 1980 until 2005. Carol Peterson Richardson?s (1983) previous review of literature relating to creativity and music education explored research from roughly 1922 until 1979 with the bulk of the presented material between 1962 and 1979. Since 1980, creativity has remained a topic that has generated much interest, research and a little controversy. Other authors including Henry (1996) and Rohwer (1997) have completed more recent reviews in creative composition and assessment of creativity. Yet a comprehensive exploration targeting contemporary studies regarding how creativity and music education relate is overdue. There has been much research into creativity in the 25 years since 4 Richardson?s (1983) review. It is time to reexamine how far research in this area has progressed.

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As an extension to Richardson?s examination, this review was limited to articles written for scholarly journals published between 1980 and 2005. The studies under consideration are categorized by research topic. The first section discusses various definitions of creativity. The second section examines various empirical measures of musical creativity, and the third section explores the effects of music instruction on general creativity scores. Although every attempt was made to be comprehensive, this review may not be all-inclusive.A formal agreement of what creativity actually is has eluded scientists, artists, philosophers and researchers alike – from Socrates to Csikszentmihalyi. Much of the more recent research has focused on deciding (or defining) exactly what creativity is and who has it.

This exploration had led researchers like Balkin (1990) to claim that creativity is “overused, misused, confused, abused, and generally misunderstood” (p. 29). Is creativity a gift, or can it be developed? Can it be learned? Can it be taught? The following section will explore these questions and describe what is thought about creativity and music education. Researchers such as Perkins (1981), Weisberg (1986), Balkin (1990), and Clark (1986) have put forth a variety of explanations as to who is creative and what creativity is. 5 The theories of creativity put forth by David Perkins (1981) and Robert Weisberg (1986) state that creativity is a process of application of knowledge, logical reasoning, memory recovery, and visualization.

Both authors related artistic creativity to puzzle solving (i.e. person A asks person B a question and either confirms or denies the answer until person B answers correctly). In his 1990 retort, Thomas Leddy plays the role of devil?s advocate to the views of Perkins and Weisberg by offering several contradictions and alternatives to their view of creativity. Leddy believed that true creativity requires more than the sum of a person?s prior knowledge and a „novel? means of applying it.

Contrasting with Perkins and Weisberg, Alfred Balkin (1990) defined creativity through a process of contrasting it with other words and concepts commonly confused with creativity. For example, Balkin contrasted creativity with talent by explaining that talent is an innate and unlearnable gift while creativity is an acquired and developable behavior. Oftentimes talented people are creative, and creative people can be talented, but there is no causal correlation that exists between these two concepts. Balkin also contrasted creativity with originality (flamboyant or bizarre behavior), IQ and cleverness. Again creative people often possess these characteristics, but not necessarily so. In fact, while theorists differ on their views of what constitutes a creative person, a general agreement exists – summarized by Balkin –that creative people tend to demonstrate certain characteristics (e.g. confidence, intellectually “playful”, persistent).

If creativity is not directly connected to talent, IQ, originality, or cleverness, then what is it? Balkin (1990) claimed that what separates creativity from simple spontaneity is a final result that represents an important contribution to society – a product. This product is the result of a four-stage process (first postulated in 1926 by Wallas). The first 6 step in this process is preparation wherein one gathers the necessary information and skills needed to complete the task.

This is followed by an incubation period in which one allows the unconscious to develop ideas and concepts. This incubation process is followed by an illumination or eureka moment where the great idea is formed. The last stage in this process is one?s verification of this great idea through time and testing. This four-stage process also appears in the research of Oehrle (1986) and Hickey and Webster (2001). The importance of product also appears in the research of Amabile (1983), Symes (1983), Tang and Leonard (1985), and Clark (1986).

Amabile (1983) suggested “a product or response is creative to the extent that appropriate observers independently agree it is creative. Appropriate observers are those familiar with the domain in which the product was created or the response articulated” (p. 359). This consensual assessment has become the cornerstone of much research into the evaluation of creative work.

Clark (1986) added that in order for the product to be considered creative, it must possess both descriptive and evaluative functions that are both novel and deemed desirable by society. Because society is ultimately responsible for determining whether an individual is creative (through the product that they deliver) – creativity (in part) is taken completely out of the hands of the creator. Tang and Leonard (1985) add that the truly creative product must be the “unique solution to a problem (p. 7).” In musical terms, this problem is the need for a product that will be considered both original and desirable.

David Elliott (1989, 1995) described creativity as a family of concepts that are often confused with originality. Elliott stated that one engages in a creative process through actions such as composing or improvising which result in a final product. This 7 product will not be considered creative unless there is a substantial level of quality (determined in a social-cultural environment). This theory led to Elliott?s „head-andshoulders? model.

Elliott believed that creative products are a combination of the familiar and the un-familiar based on a network of the creator?s prior musical experience. Take for example (as Elliot does), the Beethoven Eroica Symphony. Beethoven did not invent symphonic music or create a bizarre work of art. Beethoven created a timeless work of quality art that combines both the ordinary and extraordinary on the „shoulders? of past creations. Johnson-Laird (1987) hypothesized that creativity can be expressed as an algorithm (a limited set of instructions). To demonstrate this point, Johnson-Laird designed a computer program that would test three creative algorithms by „improvising? jazz bass lines, melodies and chord sequences. These programs were instructed to use the „grammar? (existing motifs) of jazz to „create? new improvisations. These computer generated improvisations varied widely in quality, and led to Johnson-Laird describing the creative process of a successful improvisation as having two stages: 1) combine and modify components within the limit of the constraints and 2) make an impulsive decision from the available options.

Not only is there controversy over what creativity is, but numerous music educators have inquired whether creativity can be taught. Clark (1986) explains that the product of creativity is not a separate action from the creative processes any more than winning a race is not a separate act from running the race. Educators may teach all of the tools necessary for a student to be creative, but this does not directly yield a creative product. However, Clark also believes that “Much that students learn from their teachers, 8 and especially in the area of values and dispositions, is learned by example. I think that this is especially likely to be true in teaching creativity (p.

31).” This belief in the importance of a teacher?s openness to personal creativity is shared by others, including DeTurk (1989) and Harris and Hawksley (1990). Gordon (1993) stated that the degree to which a child is creative is directly dependent upon the child?s tonal and rhythmic vocabulary. Morin (2002) agreed and explored teaching composition through the expansion of the student?s base of knowledge. Morin suggested that in order for students to display creativity, they must have a fundamental knowledge of melody, harmony and rhythm. Morin offered examples of her method in action. Numerous educators have forwarded theories of how to incorporate creativity into the classroom.

The majority of these classroom activities are in the areas of improvisation (Addison, 1988; Fratia, 2002; Hickey, 1997; Nolan, 1995; Rooke, 1990) and composition (Collins, 2005; Dunbar-Hall, 1999; Reynolds, 2002; Stauffer, 2001, 2002; Wiggins, 1999; Wilson, 2001). Other researchers have explored ways in which the curriculum itself may be structured to promote creativity (Byrne, 2002; Davidson, 1990; Kratus, 1990; Moore, 1990; Sullivan, 2002). Finally, a great deal has been written about the use of technology to aid in teaching creativity (Demonline, 1999; Howell and Murphy, 1993; Pike, 2000; Reese, 2001). Clearly a great deal of thought, time and research has been undertaken in the name of creativity. The next section will examine various methods in which musical creativity has been analyzed and quantified since 1980.Research into a means of quantifying an individual?s or a work?s creative value is essential to the understanding of what creativity is and how it can be developed. The latter half of the twentieth century has been an exciting time for the development of empirical measures of creativity in music.

Torrance?s Tests of Creative Thinking (1966) and Guilford?s 1971 Structure of Intellect (SI) model did much to standardize the evaluation of creativity. Much of the research from 1980 to the present has been based on the foundational work of these pioneers. This section will examine the work of other researchers who have developed means to calculate and quantifiably assess creativity. Peter Webster?s investigations into measuring creativity have been highly influential on other researchers? attempts to explore and quantify creativity. Published in 1980, Webster?s Measure of Creative Thinking in Music (MCTM) is directly related to the prior research of Guilford, Vaughan and Gordon. The MCTM is designed to evaluate a child?s (age 6-10) musical creativity and expressivity by engaging them in a ten-task guided improvisatory session lasting 20-25 minutes. The subject?s work is then scored by one or more judges.

Based on roughly 300 student subjects, the inter-scorer reliability has been found to average .70. Hickey and Webster (1999) reviewed and improved Webster?s previous work with the MCTM by incorporating a MIDI-based instrument into the test, principally in order to make judging results both easier and more consistent.

Subjects for their research consisted of 3rd -grade students (N = 28) and like the original MCTM, this 10 instrument was designed to test for creative elements that might not appear on other standardized tests or teacher ratings. Hickey and Webster not only improved reliability for the MTCM, but also simplified the administration of the test. Schmidt and Sinor (1986) employed Webster?s MCTM along with Gordon?s Primary Measures of Musical Audiation (PMMA), and Kagan?s Matching Familiar Figures (MFF) to investigate whether creative achievement in convergent and divergent musical assignments is connected with the cognitive dimensions of reflection/impulsivity. The researchers employed second-grade students (N = 34) as their test subjects and while they discovered that 15% of the variance of the PMMA can be attributed to reflection/impulsivity, the researchers did not find any significant relationships between reflection/impulsivity and the various dimensions of musical creativity. Like Webster, Gorder (1980) used the research of Guilford and Torrance to design a new empirical method of evaluating creative work.

Gorder?s Measures of Musical Divergent Production (MMDP) evaluates the divergent abilities of music fluency (producing musical ideas from supplied music information), flexibility (producing musical ideas that emphasize shifts in musical character such as from staccato to legato), originality (producing musical ideas that emphasize musical concepts rarely found in the subject?s overall population), elaboration (producing musical ideas emphasizing detail or complexity), and quality (producing musical ideas that are musically desirable) among instrumental music students. The MMDP was administered to 80 randomly selected junior high school and high school students and Gorder discovered that a student?s „Ability to Improvise? and their „Musical Creativity Rating? served as significant predictors for flexibility (R2 = .301) and elaboration and (R2 = .433).

While these two 11 variables, combined with age, were substantial predictors of quality (R2 = .573), the Musical Creativity Rating provided only a weak predictor of originality (R2 = .168) The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (along with the Vaughan Test of Musical Creativity) appeared once again in the research of Mark Kiehn (2003). Kiehn studied the results of students (N = 89) in grades 2, 4 and 6 on two measures of creativity. The results of the Vaughan test were scored by expert judges to determine the creative quality of the students? improvisations. Keihn discovered that boys scored significantly higher than girls (p < .05) and found significant differences between grades (p < .

01). A Tukey test revealed a significant difference between grade 2 and grades 4 and 6, but no significant difference between grades 4 and 6. Kiehn stated that there is a leveling of creativity that occurs between grades 4 and 6, and that while boys scored significantly higher on the tests for fluency, originality, and composite scores.There is a large body of research regarding creativity and music education. The research described here represents selected studies conducted subsequent to 1980. 18 Research prior to that year has been reviewed by Richardson (1983). Much research remains to be done on measuring musical creativity.

The majority of the tests cited in this review relating directly to the assessment and measurement of creativity were designed between the years 1980 and 1986. Reexamining previous methods for measuring creativity is important for increased application and reliability and technological advancements in computer hardware and software offer potential for new methods for evaluating creativity. Both new and established methods of evaluating creativity should be employed to explore the appropriateness of using product-centered methods of measuring creativity in music versus process-centered or performancecentered methods. Also, it will be important to determine whether there are relationships between students, scores on product-centered measures of creativity and their scores on process-centered or performance-centered methods. An additional avenue should be an attempt to determine whether creativity is something that can be taught and, if so, establish best methods for teaching it. Madura (1996) found creativity in vocal jazz improvisation to be related to knowledge of theory and jazz experience – both teachable concepts. Similarly, Lufting (2000) linked creativity to classroom participation in a school wide arts program.

Conversely, Hamman and Aderman (1991) found creativity in high school students to be most highly correlated with general GPA scores. Creativity is a vital factor within the context of a complete education in music. The research investigated here covers an extensive assortment of feasible topics and has practical applications to current musical instruction. Amabile?s (1983) technique of consensual assessment has provided an excellent means of judging the relative creativity 19 of musical products (Hickey, 1997, 2001).

In the process of teaching and evaluating creativity, classroom teachers could readily employ this consensual assessment. Another practical measure of creativity, Webster and Hickey?s 1999 updated version of the MCTM, was redesigned specifically to be more accurate and easier to administer. This new version of the MCTM could be assist with the longitudinal exploration of how a student?s creativity changes from a young age through high school or college. While there is still much to be learned about developing the creative abilities of student musicians, it is my hope that this examination of the literature will lead to superior teaching methods and to the establishment of an environment that develops students? capabilities as independent music learners.