Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking

Can you measure creativity through picture construction tests?

Dr Ellis Paul Torrance, nicknamed “the father of creativity”, began researching creativity in order to improve American education.

He was a creativity and education researcher at the University of Georgia.

Torrance sought to identify a creativity-oriented alternative to IQ testing and in the 1960s he came up with a set of tests named Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) in an attempt to measure divergent thinking.

One of the most iconic elements of the TTCT was the Incomplete Figure test. This involves giving someone a starting point and then asking them to complete it and giving it a title. This is usually just an initial part of drawing such as a a squiggle or a simple shape.

The instructions are given as follows:

At the bottom of this page is a piece of coloured 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 coloured 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.

Here are 2 examples of incomplete drawings and then the responses:

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Other ways to conduct the test are given below such as where children combine the shapes given:

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Here are some starting points to try with your own class. See what children come up with:

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The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking remain the most widely used assessment of creative talent but have you ever used them in your classroom? I don’t know many teachers in the UK that have.

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