Category Archives: Creativity

Stanford Innovation Lab’s Sock Challenge Results

One of the most well-known divergent thinking problem is the Alternate Uses (AU) task where you come up with different ways to use simple, everyday objects. Professor Tina Seelig, who teaches Creativity and Innovation at Stanford University, often uses challenges that build on the AU task for her students. The goal is for students to build both creativity and entrepreneurship by learning to look at an old thing in new ways, and create some kind of value from it.

We recently participated in Stanford Innovation Lab’s (SIL) Sock Challenge, where students had to create value out of mismatched socks. With students from C-Pillars Academy (most of them between 7 and 10 yrs), we used a session to try out the sock challenge one afternoon.

As expected, we got a range of ideas from our students – some common and some original. Five of our student entries were selected and showcased by the SIL team – ideas that we would have picked as well! Here is what we liked about these particular entries.

Mental Transformations

Creativity comes from the mental transformations you make to an existing object or concept to adapt it to a new situation. At one of the spectrum, you could generate ideas that use very few (or no transformations) by simply using a key aspect of the object. An example of this is using the sock as a bag to hold different objects. This doesn’t really require any big mental leaps since a sock resembles an elongated bag and the overall shape of the sock triggers that idea quickly.

On the other extreme, you could do a lot of transformations (typically to get down to the material the object is made of) till there is no longer any resemblance to the original object, and then create something different from the material. An example of this is cutting the sock(s) open and then using it to make a T-shirt or a sweater. In essence, these ideas use the sock as a piece of cloth out of which you can now fashion many different things and it doesn’t really matter that you started out with socks.  

Both of these extremes produce ideas that are not very creative, but the ideas in the middle – the “Goldilocks Ideas” – are where interesting things happen. These are where the transformations preserve some essential properties of the original object, and the changes are applied very thoughtfully to allow the object to be used in a different situation.

The Sock Ball Game created by one of our students is an example. The goal of the game is to toss the colored ball into the matching colored pouch. The bottom part of the sock was cut at the right place to make pouches and the top part of the sock was converted carefully into colored balls to make the game work. The Arm-Warmer is another such example, where another student made holes at exactly the right places (leveraging the heel of the sock for the thumb part) to make the design work.

Remote Associations

Another aspect of Creativity is being able to combine unrelated ideas, or associational thinking. The cloth diaper idea is an example of making a connection with a third world social issue of using simple pieces of cloth as diapers. The idea proposes using old socks to add an additional, absorbent layer on the cloth to make better diapers while reusing socks. The idea stands out since it combines a concept that you don’t normally associate with socks to make something useful.

Elaboration

Elaboration measures the amount of detail and flourishes added to the core idea to make it more complete. Elaboration helps clarify and articulate an idea which results in a better understanding, and often leads to improvements in the core idea. The headband and purse created by two students are great examples of elaboration for this challenge. The headband uses extra parts of the sock to make the flower decoration and the purse uses rolled up pieces of sock to make the handles. And of course, the beautiful designs just make you want to use them!

 

Our students had a lot of fun working on this challenge and we look forward to doing more of these in the future!

 

Thought Experiment: A Creative Exercise in Science

One day at the Cathedral of Pisa, Galileo who was still a teenager, watched a chandelier that a monk had just lit swinging in an arc. Using his medical training, he started timing the motion and discovered that even though the swing got shorter and shorter, the time of each swing stayed the same. That observation so excited him, that he rushed back home to experiment with strings and weights, and it eventually led to a life long fascination with pendulums and motion.

But one of his most interesting discoveries, one that was incorporated in Newton’s first law of motion,  was not the product of direct experimentation. It was his ability to imagine a scenario that was almost impossible to replicate in real life. It’s what Ernst Mach later called as a Gedankenexperiment, or a thought experiment.

Galileo realized that without friction, a ball rolled along a double incline plane will reach its original height on the other side just like a pendulum (Fig. a). He then asks to imagine what would happen if one side of the double inclined plane is made longer. The ball will then travel a longer distance till it retains its original height (Fig. b). In the limiting case of infinite length, the ball would continue rolling since it can’t reach its original height (Fig. c). This completed upended the Aristotelian view of motion that the natural state of a body is that of rest, and motion requires some force.

Thought experiments have played a significant role in the history of Science from Galileo to Einstein. Scientists expand knowledge of a concept, by creating mental models and running virtual experiments on them. In fact, cognitive scientists believe that people reason by carrying out thought experiments on internal mental models.

But more than that, thought experiments are essentially a creative exercise. Creativity at its core is about playing with models – changing different aspects or adding new associations – and iterating to find a better solution. Whether it is using SCAMPER to manipulate an attribute or reversing an assumption, creative thinking provides ways to manipulate mental models in a quest to discover breakthrough ideas.

As Nancy Nersessian, an expert on model-based thinking in Science, explains, “While thought experimenting is a truly creative part of scientific practice, the basic ability to construct and execute a thought experiment is not exceptional. The practice is highly refined extension of a common form of reasoning. It is rooted in our abilities to anticipate, imagine, visualize, and re-experience from memory. That is, it belongs to a species of thinking by means of which we grasp alternatives, make predictions, and draw conclusions about potential real-world situations we are not participating in at that time.

While the role of thought experiments in advancing scientific knowledge is undisputed, what is lesser known is its role as a pedagogical tool up until recently. After dropping out of the rigid school system in Germany, Einstein found the perfect school in Switzerland, where Johann Pestalozzi‘s methods in visual and conceptual understanding were used.

It was there that Einstein first engaged in a thought experiment that would make him the scientific genius of his time. As he told a friend later, “In Aarau I made my first rather childish experiments in thinking that had a direct bearing on the Special Theory. If a person could run after a light wave with the same speed of light, you would have a wave arrangement which could be completely independent of time. Of course, such a thing is impossible.

It’s unfortunate that over time thought experiments as a pedagogical tool have been dropped from science education. Students now spend most of their time learning facts and running predefined experiments as opposed imagining and framing their own thought experiments. Perhaps by re-introducing thought experiments, more students will find science engaging and stimulating, just like Einstein. 

 

Revitalizing Computer Science Education Through Creativity

If you were to pick the odd one out from these three things – television, computers, finger paint – which one would it be? If you are like most people, “finger paint” would stick out as the obvious answer for you.

However, that is exactly why Professor Mitchel Resnick, Professor at MIT and creator of Scratch, thinks we shortchange computer science education. As he explains, “But until we start to think of computers more like finger paint and less like television, computers will not live up to their full potential.” Just like finger paints and unlike televisions, computers can be used for designing and creating things.

Prof. Resnick believes that the focus of education in the 21st century should be to teach children to become creative thinkers. In a paper explaining his rationale he notes, “For today’s children, nothing is more important than learning to think creatively – learning to come up with innovative solutions to the unexpected situations that will continually arise in their lives. Unfortunately, most schools are out-of-step with today’s needs: they were not designed to help students develop as creative thinkers.

His group at MIT designed the highly popular Scratch programming environment with a “creativity first” approach. The goal of Scratch isn’t simply to teach programming constructs like loops and conditionals, but to encourage the spiraling creative process of imagine, create, play, share, reflect and imagine.

Incorporating creativity in computer science education has already shown several benefits. Researchers at a university in Ohio retooled their computer science classes to encourage more creative, hands-on learning. They found that in addition to an improvement in the quality of student work, the three year retention rate increased by 34%! This is especially important for women, who typically view computer science courses  “to be overly technical, with little room for individual creativity. ”

In our latest hands-on program, “Creative Android Apps”, offered in partnership with the Archimedes School, we taught mobile app development (using MIT App Inventor) while keeping creativity a central aspect of the program. The students used several creative thinking techniques to come up with their own project to design and build. While we taught them the fundamental building blocks of programming, they went through the creative spiral process to iterate and improve their apps.

Our goal was to go beyond teaching the basics of app development to inspiring students  towards computer science and STEM.

And we were truly impressed with apps that our students came up with – from managing and scheduling time,  to fundraising and even an app to help others learn machine learning! But what warmed us up most were when two of our middle-school girls said “I didn’t know programming could be so much fun!” and “I felt like I was Bill Gates.

We hope these students continue their journey towards learning and creating, and we look forward to our next Bill Gates!

 

Effective Feedback for a Growth Mindset

Suppose your child comes to you disappointed after receiving a B- on a math test that he worked really hard preparing for. What would you say to him?

If you already know about growth mindset, you know saying something along the lines of, “It’s OK, maybe you are just not a math person” isn’t the smartest thing. You should be focusing on the effort he put in instead of his inherent ability.

How about – “Great effort! I am sure you’ll do better next time”? Would that work better?

Not really.

In general, focusing on effort as opposed to ability increases intrinsic motivation over the long term. However, in certain situations, focusing on effort can actually make things worse. When the work results in a failure, focusing on effort solely can still leave the child feeling inept. Or if effort is overemphasized for relatively easy tasks, children may infer that as a sign of their low ability.

Growth mindset and intrinsic motivation go hand in hand. Children with a growth mindset are more likely to regulate their behavior for intrinsic reasons (e.g. I enjoy doing this activity) whereas children with a fixed mindset are more likely to regulate their behavior for extrinsic reasons (e.g. I want my parents to think I am a good student).

Having a growth mindset is clearly superior to a fixed mindset, since growth mindset enhances intrinsic motivation which in the long term improves perseverance and resilience against failure. But how do you inculcate a growth mindset in your child? If you as a parent model a growth mindset would that rub off on your child?

Carol Dweck, Professor at Stanford, and the originator of the mindset theory of intelligence, found that there is no link between parents’ mind-sets and their children’s. Parents’ own mindsets aren’t generally not visible to their children because they don’t necessarily manifest in parental practices. For instance, parents can have a growth mind-set but still praise their child’s talent, leading their child to develop a fixed mindset. 

However, one factor that does influence children’s mindset is not their parents’  intelligence mindset but their parent’s failure mindset. As Carol Dweck explains, “parents can view failure as either enhancing or debilitating, that this belief manifests itself in their reactions to their children’s setbacks, and that it influences their children’s intelligence mind-sets.

So how can you handle a  failure situation more effectively?

When faced with a setback, a better approach is to frame the feedback in a more broader process-oriented feedback that includes thoughtful analysis of strategies and new approaches to explore. Think of the effort-oriented feedback as a subset of the larger process-oriented feedback. 

So, instead of simply saying “Good effort!”, use Prof Dweck’s recommendation and try this – “The point isn’t to get it all right away. The point is to grow your understanding step by step. What can you try next?” And follow this up with a discussion of what strategy did not work and what strategies might be worth trying the next time.

 

How Intrinsic Motivation Can Help Creativity

In 1971, Edward Deci did an experiment on college students to understand motivation and performance. These students were given puzzles to solve which Deci believed they would be intrinsically motivated to solve. Students in the control group did not receive any money to work on the puzzles, while students in the experimental group were paid only on the second day.  The experimenter gave a break in the middle of the experiment each day to see how long students played with the puzzles when left alone.

Deci found that students who were paid on the second day, spent longer on the puzzles during the break. However, on the third day when they were not paid, they spent significantly less time playing with the puzzles than the control group. Deci interpreted this as evidence that an external reward decreases the intrinsic motivation to engage in an activity.

Deci along with Ryan expanded on this work to propose the Self Determination Theory (SDT). The SDT outlines three universal psychological needs – autonomy, competence and relatedness – which govern individual motivation. Need for competence and autonomy form the basis of intrinsic motivation.

Monetary rewards have shown some benefit in performance if the task is more manual in nature or when people have identified with an activity’s value. For complex problems requiring creative problem solving skills, intrinsic motivation plays a bigger role.

Teresa Amabile, Professor at Harvard Business School and Creativity expert, has found plenty of evidence of what she calls the “Intrinsic Motivation Principle of Creativity”, namely that “people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself-and not by external pressures.

Given the strong connection between creativity and intrinsic motivation, here are three ways to maintain intrinsic motivation.

Praise, Don’t Reward

Praising instead of giving a monetary reward works better in improving intrinsic motivation, even though both are forms of external rewards. However, for praise to be effective it should focus on the effort as opposed to ability, should not convey low expectation and should not convey information about competence solely through social comparison.

Focus on Others

While intrinsic motivation drives creativity, it turns out that it drives the “originality” component of creativity and not the “useful” aspect. Prof. Adam Grant’s research has shown that focusing on solving others’ problems improves creativity in the “useful” aspect as well. As he explains, “perspective taking, as generated by prosocial motivation, strengthens the association between intrinsic motivation and creativity.”

Embrace failure

Any creative task by definition has a lot of uncertainty and success isn’t guaranteed. Creating a mindset where failure is appreciated for the knowledge it brings on what doesn’t work, can go a long way in building intrinsic motivation. In Prof. Amabile’s words, “… if people do not perceive any “failure value” for projects that ultimately do not achieve commercial success, they’ll become less and less likely to experiment, explore, and connect with their work on a personal level. Their intrinsic motivation will evaporate

Superheros to the Rescue

How do creative ideas come about? What cognitive processes underlie creativity? These questions have been a source of fascination and research among psychologists for a long time. One thinking pattern that comes up most often as an explanation is associative thinking.  

The first influential theory that tied associative thinking to creativity was put forth by Mednick. He defined the creative thinking process as the “forming of associative elements into new combinations which either meet specified requirements or are in some way useful.” He proposed that how associations are organized in the brain determines how creative people are. Less creative people show steep associative hierarchies (only a few associations will show high associative response strength) while highly creative people have flat associative hierarchies.

While some of Mednick’s predictions didn’t turn out to be true, he was right about the associative nature of creativity. Recent research is starting to reveal more about associative thinking and how it ties to both creativity and intelligence.

Benedek and colleagues investigated associative processes and how they impact creativity and intelligence. The four kinds of associative processes they studied were:

  • Associative Fluency – The ability to generate as many associations as possible to a given trigger. For example, apple:  “red”, “juicy”, “round”.
  • Associative Flexibility – The ability to build a long and diversified associative chain where each item is associated only to the preceding one. For example, apple: “red”, “blood”, “bandaid”.
  • Dissociative Ability – The ability to generate a list of unrelated concepts. For example, apple: “pencil”, “shirt”, “screwdriver”.
  • Associative Combination – The ability to find an associations related to completely unrelated stimuli. For example apple – beanbag: “round”, “squishy”.

Their analysis showed that “associative combination and dissociative ability are significant predictors of creativity, whereas both have no significant relationship to intelligence. In contrast, intelligence is predicted by associative flexibility, which in turn has no significant relationship to creativity.

Our latest brainteaser category, “Superheros to the Rescue”, suggested by a MindAntix user, builds on the associative combination thinking. In this kind of brainteaser, there are two completely unrelated concepts – a crisis (e.g. the family kitten is stuck on a tree) and a Superhero with a rather strange superpower (e.g. the “Whipped Cream Man” who can shoot foamy, gooey whipped cream) who needs to save the day. The key to solving the brainteaser is to construct a story that uses the superpower in a meaningful way to solve the problem.

We love this idea from our user because it beautifully captures the essence of the combinatorial form of associative thinking in a fun way. Well done! In fact, constructing a brainteaser in this category builds both the dissociative ability (the crisis and the super power are completely unrelated) and the associative combination (the solution has to tie the two concepts in a meaningful way).

So it’s your turn now. Can you think of a way the Whipped Cream Man could help save the kitten? Have fun using your imagination and creativity to solve this!

A Summer Full of Inventions

After an exciting and busy spell, we recently concluded our summer programs that introduced children to creativity and inventing.

This year, we expanded on our summer camp from last year. We ran our invention themed camps for two age groups – a younger group (1st – 4th grade) and an older group (5th – 8th). The younger group had weekly invention themes (like inventions to simplify chores, making functional clothes etc). For the older group, we did a 2-week camp in collaboration with the Archimedes School (who taught 3D printing). The students made pressure sensors from individual components, 3D printed a casing for their sensors and then used creative thinking techniques to come up with new inventions that would use pressure sensors in a meaningful way.

Our goal was for children to experience the entire creative flow from ideation to prototyping, and learn creativity skills that would last them for longer. Through these creativity techniques, we wanted children to come up with many different ideas to solve a problem. In fact, with the older group, we even tallied how many ideas they got with and without using creativity techniques. Everyone in that group was able to come up with 2x-3x more ideas by using one of the creative thinking approaches! Here are the things we focused on in our camps:

  • Understanding Creativity: We started each camp with discussing what creativity means – that it involves coming up with ideas that are both original and useful.  Creativity is often confused with art, and it was helpful to clarify that in the beginning with a discussion of what makes something creative.
  • Creativity Techniques: For both groups, we focused on two core creative thinking techniques to coming up with original ideas – “Put to Another Use” and “Associative Thinking“. Being able to adapt an object for a different use and finding ways to combine a random object or concept, are fundamental processes in thinking creatively and seem to underlie other creativity techniques. The older group also did other techniques like reversing assumptions, and processes like MindMapping to help them brainstorm more effectively.
  • Evaluating Creativity: While it’s important to understand what creativity is, we thought it would be even better if the students knew how they can measure creativity. So, everyone had to evaluate their own as well as others’ ideas on “originality” and “usefulness”. The older group also rated ideas on “impact” and “practicality”. This exercise really helped them in picking the most creative ones to pursue in a systematic way.
  • Telling a Story: It’s not enough to come up with a good idea – selling an idea is just as important. So we introduced storytelling and storyboarding concepts to help them tell a compelling story about their invention. The older group pitched their idea to the rest of the group and got useful feedback on their invention and pitch in return.  

We were truly heartened to see even the younger children apply these concepts and come up with creative ideas. And we ended up with some very neat inventions in the process!

The younger group came up with ideas like a sweater that converts into a hammock using drawstrings on the collar and bottom (notice the “Put to another use” skill being used here?), a pot with removable handles that also serve as spatulas, a couch with easy access storage bins and many more!

The older group used pressure sensor in many different ways and after searching through the patent database picked ideas that they believed were sufficiently unique and useful. We had a safe stovetop that will switch off when there is no pan on it, a laundry hamper that reminds you to do your laundry regularly, a pencil grip that detects when you are under stress and pressing too hard and several more. And what truly warmed our hearts was when one of the students commented during the demo day, “If all of these were not just prototypes, the world would be so much better!

We had a great time watching  our 40+ campers learn to play with ideas and hope they are inspired to continue their inventive journey beyond our summer camp.

If Pigs Could Fly…

In the late 80s, researchers studying logical learning in children gave a group of 4 year olds the premise that ‘all pigs can fly’ and that ‘John is a pig’. Most of the kids had trouble reaching the conclusion that ‘John can fly’, until the researchers changed the instructions a little.

When the researchers first told the kids ‘let’s pretend that [all pigs can fly]…’, their performance on this task improved significantly. Somehow, transferring the rule to a pretend world helped the children in reasoning abstractly about that world.

The exact mechanism of why pretending helps with reasoning is not fully clear, but research in the last couple of decades has shown that pretend scenarios play an important role in cognitive development.

Psychologists, Weisberg and Gopnik, have proposed that unrealistic pretend scenarios don’t just help with counterfactual reasoning – they are also important for causal learning which can in some cases be harder to do with real-world scenarios. As they explain about Einstein’s theories, “Einstein’s thought experiments are a good scientific example of how unrealistic counterfactuals can help to distinguish potential causal structures. Both relativistic and classical theories of physics make similar predictions in commonly observed cases. Considering very unlikely possibilities, such as a world where the speed of light is different, can help discriminate between these theories.

Unrealistic pretend scenarios are also an integral part of creative thinking and utilize, among other things, associative thinking. For instance, comprehending the statement, ‘If dogs had gills…’, requirescreation of an unusual conceptual combination (‘dogs’ and ‘gills’) with potential consequences that go beyond what is literally stated.

Torrance, also known as the father of creativity, included two tasks (‘Just Suppose’ and ‘Consequences Task’) around improbable situations in his Torrance Test of Creative Thinking.

Our newest category of brainteasers at MindAntix, ‘What Would Happen If…’, present unrealistic scenarios and ask users to come up with as many reasonable consequences as possible. Our goal is to build the cognitive processes underlying logical and creative thinking like disengaging with reality, making inferences and associative thinking.

So, the next time you are bored try making up a new world where the usual rules don’t apply. How would things be different in that world? What would happen as a consequence of those strange new rules? And maybe while thinking about that you might even discover a new insight about our own world!

Complete the Picture

We often get compliments and questions about our homepage graphics, so we figured we’ll explain the inspiration behind the design, and also announce our fun summer challenge!

The design is a riff on the Picture Construction Task, from the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking, or the TTCT. The TTCT was developed in the 1960s by Ellis Paul Torrance, a psychologist who pioneered research in Creativity in the United States, and has become the most widely used Creativity test in the world. Prof. Kyung Hee Kim, who first documented the decline in Creativity in the US has found that the TTCT predicts creative achievement better than any other creativity or divergent thinking test.

The TTCT contains open ended tasks grouped as verbal (using either verbal or non-verbal stimuli) or figural. As Torrance explains, “Each of the tasks is based on a rationale developed from some research finding concerning the nature of the creative process, the creative personality, or the conditions necessary for creative achievement. The tasks are designed to involve as many different aspects of verbal creative functioning as possible.”

Coming back to the Picture Construction Task, which helps to measure a few creative factors like Originality, Elaboration and  Abstractness of titles. In this task, you are given an initial part of drawing (a squiggle or a simple shape) and the goal is to draw a picture where this initial drawing would play an integral part. Below are the instructions that accompany the task:

At the bottom of this page is a piece of colored paper in the form of a curved shape. Think of a picture or an object in which this form would be an important part. Then lift up the piece of colored paper and stick it wherever you want it on the next page, just like you would a postage stamp. Then add lines with pencil or crayon to make your picture.

Try to think of a picture that no one else will think of. Keep adding new ideas to your first idea to make it tell as interesting and as exciting a story as you can.

When you have completed your picture, think up a name or title for it and write it at the bottom of the page in the space provided. Make your title as clever and unusual as possible. Use it to help tell your story.

It’s easy to see how our design ties to the Picture Construction Task. We used each letter in the word “creative” as a stimulus for another picture, like the letter “a” is part of a snail’s body or the letter “v” is part of a star. That brings us to our creative summer challenge.

Can you think of a new way to write “Creative” using each letter as a starting point? Use your summer break to think of a clever idea and send it for a chance to win an Amazon gift card! 

As you start working on the challenge, try to think of ideas no one else would come up with it. Be sure to include an explanation of your design when you send it to us. And don’t worry about your artistic skills – what we are looking for is how creatively you use each of the letters in the design, not necessarily how well you can draw. 

Happy Creative Thinking!

Email your entries (.jpg, .png format) to hello@mindantix.com by Aug 31, 2016 to be eligible for the contest. Gift card value is $25. Contest open to US residents only.

 

Evaluating Divergent Thinking

From the Greek Daemons to Galton’s historiometry, human creativity has been a subject of fascination for many centuries. Formal scientific inquiry into this space, however, is considered to have started after J.P. Guilford’s Presidential Address for the American Psychology Association in 1950 where he stressed the importance and need for research into Creativity. That led to a spate of research in different aspects of Creativity and finally some consensus on what Creativity means.

Creativity, by most definitions now, means coming up with ideas that are both novel and useful. Psychologist, Dean Keith Simonton, expressed Creativity as

Creativity = Originality x Appropriateness

In other words, if an idea is original, but it doesn’t solve any problem or isn’t appropriate in that context, then it is not creative. Similarly, if the idea is useful and appropriate but isn’t new, then again it isn’t creative.

This focus on both originality and appropriateness is what makes Creativity tricky. And what’s the most recommended way of coming up with a creative idea? Coming up with lots of ideas!

In fact, Guilford believed that divergent thinking, or the ability to generate many ideas to a solution, was an important subset of creative thinking. While he did not think that divergent thinking alone could be equated with creativity, it has become one of the more well-known aspects of creativity.  

Guilford’s model of divergent thinking has turned out to be a useful way to evaluate individual creativity, and it’s the model we are now using for teachers to evaluate student responses on MindAntix. In his model, divergent thinking includes 4 different components, explained using an Alternate Uses Task (possible uses of a leaf):

Fluency: Fluency is the ability to generate lots of ideas. If Ann comes up with 20 uses for a leaf while Ben comes up with 7, then Ann shows more fluency than Ben.

Flexibility: Flexibility is the ability to come up with different categories of ideas. Suppose Ben thought of using the leaf as a placemat and as a shelter for a bug, and Ann thought of using the leaf as a paintbrush and as a quill. Ann’s ideas fall in the same category of writing/drawing instrument whereas Ben’s ideas fall in different categories. In this case, Ben shows higher flexibility than Ann.

Originality: Originality is the ability of generating unique or unusual ideas. Using the same example as above, if no one else thought of Ben’s idea of using the leaf as a bug shelter, then that idea is original. Practically, responses given by 5% or 1% of the respondents are considered unique.

Elaboration: Elaboration refers to the ability to add details and fill in the gaps. For instance, if Ann responded with “hold the leaf from the stem and dip the tip into paint to use as a paintbrush” instead of “use as a paintbrush”, she would score higher on elaboration.  

Torrance, psychologist most famous for his work on creativity, lamented that “Children are so accustomed to the one correct or best answer that they may be reluctant to think of other possibilities or to build up a pool of ideas to be evaluated later.” Guilford’s model of divergent thinking provides a handy way to help move children move past the one-right-answer mindset.