top of page

Creativity Module 1:

What is Creativity?


Background Information:

Since the 1800s, there have been debates on how to define creativity ranging from the simple to complex definitions (Plucker, Beghetto & Dow, 2004). Some researchers proposed an element of surprise while others thought that creative things should be ‘worthwhile’ (Runco & Jaeger, 2012). The first clear definition of creativity was offered as follows (Stein,1953):


"The creative work is a novel work that is accepted as tenable or useful or satisfying by a group in some point in time. By ‘novel...’ the creative product did not exist previously in precisely the same form...

The extent to which a work is novel depends on the extent to which it deviates from the traditional or the status quo. This may well depend on the nature of the problem [being solved], the [amount] of knowledge or experience that exists in the field at the time, and the characteristics of the creative individual and those of the individuals with whom [they are] communicating..."

I.e., a creative idea or product must be original, novel, unique, unusual, and relevant or useful to the problem being solved.

The following 14 components of creativity (Jordanous, 2012) provide a structure for understanding creativity:

  1. Active Involvement and Persistence

    • Being actively involved; reacting to and having a deliberate effect on a process.

    • The tenacity to persist with a process throughout, even at problematic points.

  2. Dealing with Uncertainty

    • Coping with incomplete, missing, inconsistent, uncertain and/or ambiguous information. Element of risk and chance, with no guarantee that problems can or will be resolved.

    • Not relying on every step of the process to be specified in detail; perhaps even avoiding routine or preexisting methods and solutions.

  3. Domain Competence

    • Domain-specific intelligence, knowledge, talent, skills, experience and expertise.

    • Knowing a domain well enough to be equipped to recognize gaps, needs or problems that need solving and to generate, validate, develop and promote new ideas in that domain.

  4. General Intellect

    • General intelligence and intellectual ability.

    • Flexible and adaptable mental capacity.

  5. Generation of Results

    • Working towards some end target, or goal, or result.

    • Producing something (tangible or intangible) that previously did not exist.

  6. Independence and Freedom

    • Working independently with autonomy over actions and decisions.

    • Freedom to work without being bound to pre-existing solutions, processes or biases; perhaps challenging cultural or domain norms.

  7. Intention and Emotional Involvement

    • Personal and emotional investment, immersion, self-expression, involvement in a process.

    • Intention and desire to perform a task, a positive process giving fulfillment and enjoyment.

  8. Originality

    • Novelty and originality -a new product, or doing something in a new way, or seeing new links and relations between previously unassociated concepts.

    • Results that are unpredictable, unexpected, surprising, unusual, out of the ordinary.

  9. Progression and Development

    • Movement, advancement, evolution and development during a process

    • Whilst progress may or may not be linear, and an actual end goal may be only loosely specified (if at all), the entire process should represent some developmental progression in a particular domain or task.

  10. Social Interaction and Communication

    • Communicating and promoting work to others in a persuasive, positive manner.

    • Mutual influence, feedback, sharing and collaboration between society and individual.

  11. Spontaneity / Subconscious Processing

    • No need to be in control of the whole process -thoughts and activities may inform a process subconsciously without being fully accessible for conscious analysis.

    • Being able to react quickly and spontaneously during a process when appropriate, without needing to spend time thinking about options too much.

  12. Thinking and Evaluation

    • Consciously evaluating several options to recognize potential value in each and identify the best option, using reasoning and good judgment.

    • Proactively selecting a decided choice from possible options, without allowing the process to stagnate under indecision

  13. Value

    • Making a useful contribution that is valued by others and recognized as an influential achievement; perceived as special; ‘not just something anybody would have done’.

    • End product is relevant and appropriate to the do

  14. Variety, Divergence and Experimentation

    • Generating a variety of different ideas to experiment with different options without bias.

    • Multi-tasking during a process (Jordanous, 2012).



  • View things in new ways or from a different perspective.

  • Generate new possibilities or unique alternatives to situations.

  • Practice adding details to ideas through drawings, writing or speaking.

  • Practice being comfortable with the unknown.

  • Practice generating many Ideas to a situation.

  • Practice generating many categories of Ideas

  • Practice keeping an open mind to situations.

  • Practice coming up with multiple possibilities when analyzing a problem by looking at every angle of the situation.

  • Practice making a decision when there are multiple possibilities or choices.

  • Take calculated risks in selected situations.

Review Tips for Teachers to apply generic influences on learning. These "tips" expand on the Generic Influences and serve as a guide for how teachers can understand their observations of students

Self-awareness is key to many different aspects of creativity, including mindfulness. In fact, the World Health Organization lists self-awareness as one of the ten life skills that promote well-being across all cultures (Positive Action Staff, 2020). Following is a listing of the other nine critical life skills:

  • Empathy

  • Critical thinking

  • Creative thinking

  • Responsible decision-making

  • Problem-solving

  • Effective communication

  • Interpersonal relationships

  • Coping with stress

  • Coping with emotions

Here are some ideas for how to develop self-awareness:

  1.  Positive Awareness. Ask the students to list the qualities they appreciate about themselves. If necessary, provide suggestions such as “I am optimistic” or “I am innovative.” Motivate the older students to introspect more profoundly. The students should keep this list in a prominent location where they can frequently glance at it to strengthen their confidence in their positive attributes. Keep an

  2. Emotion Journal. Have the students maintain an emotion journal as they learn to recognize and categorize their emotions. This may entail the younger students using emoji faces, while older students keep an electronic journal. Allocating a daily “emotional assessment” period enables the students to comprehend and examine their emotions.

  3. Establish and Work Toward Goals. Accomplishing self-awareness targets and objectives provides students with accomplishments that will reinforce confidence in their abilities. Encourage students to establish practical objectives and note the necessary steps to achieve them. Also consider creating a collective objective for the class to strive towards throughout the academic year.

  4. Use Your Strengths. Assist the students in recognizing their areas of expertise. The process of identifying their strength areas helps with a more positive self-perception. Finding ways to enhance these strengths areas fosters self-assurance which helps lay the groundwork for future achievements.



List your new insights regarding creativity.

Take the FRC Teacher Self-awareness Checklist to become aware of your creativity, motivation and generic influences on learning

For students from grades 8 to adults, administer the Reisman Diagnostic Creativity Assessment (RDCA). TheRDCA (Reisman, Keiser, & Otti, 2011) is a free online 40-item self-report creativity assessment that may be accessed via (Reisman, Keiser & Otti; 2016c). The results of the RDCA are intended “to be used to diagnostically to identify one’s creative strengths, rather than to predict creativity” (Tanner, & Reisman, 2014,p. 25). The RDCA assesses an individual’s self-perception on 11 major creativity factors that have emerged from the creativity research; namely, originality, fluency, flexibility, elaboration, resistance to premature closure, convergent and divergent thinking, risk-taking, and intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Some of the RDCA factors are similar to those tapped by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) (Torrance, 1974), which in turn stems from Guilford’s (1967)creativity research. The RDCA may be completed in less than 10 minutes, is automatically scored, and provides immediate results that users may email to themselves or others. The test-taker immediately gets a profile of relative strengths and weaknesses, ranked from Very High to Very Low on each of the 11 factors. In addition to the 11 creativity factors tapped by the RDCA, assessment 5 below lists additional creative student characteristics.

Observe additional creative student characteristics:

  • high level of curiosity

  • may engage in disruptive behaviors

  • disengage from classroom activity

  • daydream due to boredom

  • show high levels of energy

  • need positive ways to show their creativity

bottom of page