Creativity - can it be measured?© Alfonso Romero
Brussels (BE) - 28/05/09 - 29/05/09
Can creativity be measured?
Can creativity be measured? This question was intensely debated by delegates from around the world at a two-day conference organised by the JRC's Centre for Research on Lifelong Learning (CRELL) in Brussels 28-29 May. Discussions between scholars, researchers and policy makers touched on subjects such as creative societies and creative classes, creativity and culture, creativity and economic growth, national and cross-national measurements of creativity and innovation. They also included detailed scientific questions on the very nature of creativity and the development of instruments for measuring creativity.
The importance of measuring creativity was underlined by the message of Commission President José Manuel Barroso to the participants, who stated that "Creativity is the core of any innovation. But creativity is a complex construct and requires to be studied properly if we want to develop and implement effective policies". Mr. Barroso went on to emphasise that "we need to create a flexible environment to empower people to continuously learn and adapt to change, to provide them, from early childhood to maturity, with skills needed to cope with the different, to develop their talent and transform their ideas into social an economic value".
To examine the different approaches used to measure innovation and creativity on country and regional levels, a series of ongoing Commission initiatives on measuring innovation and creativity were presented and discussed together with national and regional examples from Europe, the US and Hong Kong. It was clearly demonstrated that a vast span of theoretical approaches and a great variety of indicators on innovation and creativity were applied in the many current initiatives and that there was space and urgent need for cross fertilising the experiences and development efforts in the field. The different approaches to measuring creativity and innovation presented each have their own merits and function. Aggregated composite measurements on creativity and innovation on a national level could be developed, but more theoretical and statistical analysis would need to be done especially in order to integrate the dimensions linked to creativity in the construct.
Regarding the measurement of creativity at individual level, a number of approaches to measuring and analysing creative skills and competences applying psychometric methodologies and theories were presented. Problem solving/problem finding - skills were highlighted as a good proxy for potential creativity, but it was also recognised that creative skills included essential dimensions (analogical and divergent thinking, risk taking) that should be included in any measurement of creativity. A recurrent question throughout the conference concerned the relation between education and creativity. It was mentioned that evidence tells us that there is low correlation between education and creativity, i.e. that the most educated are not necessarily the most creative. Questions were also posed on whether creativity can be taught or learned: What is the role of formal versus informal learning of creativity? How can teachers and trainers be trained to become creative themselves and to teach creativity to young people and adults? Participants agreed that many of these questions can only be answered in due time based on large scale surveys measuring creative skills and competences of individuals. The conference can be seen as a first step in that direction.
The proceedings of the conference, including detailed conclusions drawn from the event, will be published on the CRELL website.