Assessing Creativity Using the Consensual Assessment Technique

Assessing Creativity Using the Consensual Assessment Technique

John Baer (Rider University, USA) and Sharon S. McKool (Rider University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-667-9.ch004
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The Consensual Assessment Technique is a powerful tool used by creativity researchers in which panels of expert judges are asked to rate the creativity of creative products such as stories, collages, poems, and other artifacts. Experts in the domain in question serve as judges; thus, for a study of creativity using stories and poems, a panel of writers and/or teachers of creative writing might judge the creativity of the stories, and a separate panel of poets and/or poetry critics might judge the creativity of the poems. The Consensual Assessment Technique is based on the idea that the best measure of the creativity of a work of art, a theory, a research proposal, or any other artifact is the combined assessment of experts in that field. Unlike other measures of creativity, such as divergent-thinking tests, the Consensual Assessment Technique is not based on any particular theory of creativity, which means that its validity (which has been well established empirically) is not dependent upon the validity of any particular theory of creativity. This chapter explains the Consensual Assessment Technique, discusses how it has been used in research, and explores ways it might be employed in assessment in higher education.
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Why do you believe that Van Gogh’s paintings of sunflowers are creative? On what basis do you judge the special theory of relativity to be highly creative? Why do you think Shakespeare was a more creative dramatist than Marlowe? And how would you judge the creativity of some recent ten- and eleven-dimensional string theories?

You may be comfortable answering some of these questions, but unless you are truly a Renaissance person, it’s unlikely that you feel qualified to make a defensible response to all four of them. And even though you might know enough about, say, the works of Shakespeare and Marlowe to give an informed opinion, does your opinion really “count” as much as the opinions of recognized experts in the field of English literature?

How is creativity judged at the highest levels? Why are some works of art treasured and others forgotten? Why do some theories, compositions, books, and inventions win prizes? These kinds of decisions aren’t based on a procedure or rubric that awards points for different attributes of a painting, composition, or theory. There is no test to determine which historian’s theories, which biochemist’s models, or which screenwriter’s movies are the most creative. Nobel Prize committees don’t apply rubrics, complete checklists, or score tests. What do they do? They ask experts. The most valid assessment of the creativity of an idea or creation in any field is the collective judgment of recognized experts in that field. And while it’s true that experts in different times and places may come to different conclusions (and pity the unfortunate artists and scientists whose genius is only recognized when it is too late for them to enjoy their posthumous fame), at any given time, the best judgment one can make of the creativity of anyone’s ideas, poems, theories, artworks, compositions, or other creations is the overall judgment of experts in their field1.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Validity: How well a test measures what it is supposed to measure (and that it is not instead measuring other, unrelated variables).

Domain Generality: A theory of creativity that assumes that the skills or traits that underlie creative performance are essentially the same in all domains.

Consensual Assessment Technique: A method for assessing creativity in which panels of expert judges are asked to rate the creativity of creative products such as stories, collages, poems, and other artifacts.

Creativity: Refers to anything someone does in a way that is original to the creator and that is appropriate to the purpose or goal of the creator.

Reliability: The degree to which scores on a test are consistent–that test scores do not vary from day to day or depend on who is scoring a test.

Domain Specificity: A theory of creativity that argues that the skills or traits that underlie creative performance vary from domain to domain.

Divergent Thinking: Is a kind of thinking that produces a variety of unusual and often original ideas to an open-ended question.

Complete Chapter List

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Christopher S. Schreiner
Christopher S. Schreiner
Chapter 1
Melissa A. Dyehouse, John Y. Baek, Richard A. Lesh
This chapter describes a model for evaluating complex organizations or systems. The design assessment model the authors propose is a response to... Sample PDF
Multi-Tier Design Assessment in the Development of Complex Organizational Systems
Chapter 2
Hedva Lewittes
In this chapter critical thinking is assessed using two critical thinking learning outcomes that were required for the State University of New... Sample PDF
A Critical Thinking Rubric as the Basis of Assessment and Curriculum
Chapter 3
Suzanne Pieper, Erika Edwards, Brandon Haist, Walter Nolan
The purpose of this chapter is to review literature over the past ten years regarding technology tools that are being used in higher education to... Sample PDF
A Survey of Effective Technologies to Assess Student Learning
Chapter 4
John Baer, Sharon S. McKool
The Consensual Assessment Technique is a powerful tool used by creativity researchers in which panels of expert judges are asked to rate the... Sample PDF
Assessing Creativity Using the Consensual Assessment Technique
Chapter 5
Christine Charyton, Zorana Ivcevic, Jonathan A. Plucker, James C. Kaufman
This chapter discusses creativity assessment as a means for evaluating skills required in higher education. Creativity is assessed in the context of... Sample PDF
Creativity Assessment in Higher Education
Chapter 6
Asao B. Inoue
This chapter articulates writing assessment as a technology, theorized with three aspects (power, parts, and purpose), accounting for the ways in... Sample PDF
The Technology of Writing Assessment and Racial Validity
Chapter 7
Sheila S. Thompson, Annemarie Vaccaro
The purpose of this chapter is to address epistemological and methodological approaches to assessing assessment. The authors’ intent is to show how... Sample PDF
Qualitative and Quantitative Methods as Complementary Assessment Tools
Chapter 8
Teresa Flateby
The development of the Cognitive Level and Quality of Writing Assessment online system is described in this chapter. Beginning with needs identified... Sample PDF
Effects of Assessment Results on a Writing and Thinking Rubric
Chapter 9
Barbara D’Angelo, Barry Maid
Outcomes-based assessment provides data for programs to demonstrate student learning as a result of their enrollment in the program and to assess... Sample PDF
Assessing Outcomes in a Technical Communication Capstone
Chapter 10
Sonya Borton, Alanna Frost, Kate Warrington
As Jacqueline Jones Royster articulated at the 2006 Conference on College Composition and Communication, English departments are already assessing... Sample PDF
Assessing the Composition Program on Our Own Terms
Chapter 11
Joan Aitken
This chapter uses a case study to exemplify one approach to assessment of three instructional delivery formats: (a) online, (b) distance, satellite... Sample PDF
A Case Study of Instructional Delivery Formats
Chapter 12
Victor W. Brunsden
The author present a case-study of a classroom technique that allows assessment and some remediation of several shortcomings of college student... Sample PDF
Inverting the Remedial Mathematics Classroom with Alternative Assessment
Chapter 13
David A. Eubanks
This chapter describes Coker College’s subjective performance assessment program to rate student thinking and communication skills. It uses a... Sample PDF
A Case Study of Authentic Assessment
Chapter 14
P. Tokyo Kang, David Gugin
This chapter reports an outcomes assessment study conducted at the University of Guam. The assessment project was conducted during the 2006-07 and... Sample PDF
Outcomes Assessment in Japanese Language Instruction
Chapter 15
Barika Barboza, Frances Singh
This chapter describes an outcomes assessment study completed in a basic composition course at a small urban open admissions community college. The... Sample PDF
Assessing the Effectiveness of a Basic Writing Course
Chapter 16
Lorraine Gilpin, Yasar Bodur, Kathleen Crawford
Peer assessment holds tremendous potential to positively impact the development of preservice teachers. The purpose of this chapter is to describe... Sample PDF
Peer Assessment for Development of Preservice Teachers
Chapter 17
Charlotte Brammer, Rhonda Parker
In 2002, Samford University began working on a long-term learning assessment plan designed to evaluate its undergraduates’ competencies in written... Sample PDF
Workshops and E-Portfolios as Transformational Assessment
Chapter 18
Daniel F. Chambliss
This chapter describes how the trend favoring assessment initiatives of a system-wide scope such as program review and collegiate learning... Sample PDF
A Neglected Necessity in Liberal Arts Assessment: The Student as the Unit of Analysis
Chapter 19
Deirdre Pettipiece, Timothy Ray, Justin Everett
Perhaps due to its applicability as a performance of skill sets in virtually all disciplines, writing as a mechanism for measuring student success... Sample PDF
Redefining Writing Reality Multi-Modal Writing and Assessment
Chapter 20
Sean A. McKitrick
This chapter introduces methods that can be used to engage faculty in the assessment process, working within a shared governance structure in... Sample PDF
Engaging Faculty as a Strategic Choice in Assessment
Chapter 21
Steven M. Culver, Ray VanDyke
There is much in the assessment literature about the necessity of developing a culture of assessment and mandates from accrediting bodies include... Sample PDF
Developing a Receptive and Faculty-Focused Environment for Assessment
Chapter 22
John Wittman
This chapter argues that as primary stakeholders in writing program assessment, students and instructors need to be included proactively in... Sample PDF
New Collaborations for Writing Program Assessment
Chapter 23
Mya Poe
The study of racial-ethnic group differences on educational tests has yielded a substantial body of research internationally in the last decade. In... Sample PDF
Reporting Race and Ethnicity in International Assessment
Chapter 24
Joan Hawthorne, Tatyana Dumova, April Bradley, Daphne Pederson
In this chapter the authors describe a method developed to assess the outcome of a “cultural familiarity” general education goal. Challenges in... Sample PDF
Method Development for Assessing a Diversity Goal
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