Dimensions of Creativity: A Model to Analyze Student Projects

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By Candace Hackett Shively


Guilford's model of Divergent Thinking from the 1950s provides a breakdown of four component skills that interact to become what people generally call "creativity." Although this analysis was around long before today's web 2.0 tools, it provides an insightful vocabulary and lens that teachers, students, and parents can use to help students think and work creatively. Guilford's four skills are fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration (FFOE for short). These pages provide explanations and, most importantly, practical ways to look at the projects that teachers plan and the products that students produce so they can continue to build FFOE skills as part of any grade level or curriculum. Do more than simply tell your students to "be creative." If you ask yourself:

  • How do I help students who struggle with “being creative” in project-based learning?
  • How do I differentiate tools/projects to match students’ varied creativity skills?
  • How do I know that more “creative” students are moving forward, challenging their creative thinking and not simply using past “tried and true” ideas, wrapped in a little glitz?
  • How do my students and I talk about the creativity skills they used (or did not use) in making a project?

Follow the links at the top of this page to see more about each FFOE skill and how to use this model to answer some of these questions.