The creativity test first came to existence during World War II, when the US air force commissioned a psychologist named J.P.Guilford at the University of Southern California, to study the subject.
The air force wanted their selection tests to pick out pilots who could respond with appropriate, original behaviour in an emergency such as an instrument or gear failing on them; this, in turn, would hopefully save both themselves and the plane.
Prior to Guilford’s tests, they used IQ tests but these were designed to test for intelligence alone and not originality. The tests Guilford developed later became known as the tests for divergent thinking.
One of the most popular creativity tests that test for general creativity is the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking. This is a traditional paper and pencil test which looks for divergent thinking abilities. The test is scored base on fluency, flexibility and original thinking.
Weiping Hu from the Shanxi Teachers’ University, China in collaboration with Philip Adey from Kings College London, UK put together a scientific creativity test by referring to ideas put forward in the Torrance test.
Students were given approximately one hour to complete the following seven different tasks:
“Please write down as many as possible scientific uses as you can for a piece of glass. For example, make a test tube.”
“If you can take a spaceship to travel in the outer space and go to a planet, what scientific questions do you want to research? Please list as many as you can. For example, are there any living things on the planet?”
“Please think up as many possible improvements as you can to a regular bicycle, making it more interesting, more useful and more beautiful. For example, make the tyres reflective, so they can be seen in the dark.”
“Suppose there was no gravity, describe what the world would be like? For example, human beings would be floating.”
“Please use as many possible methods as you can to divide a square into four equal pieces (same shape). Draw it on the answer sheet.”
“There are two kinds of napkins. How can you test which is better? Please write down as many possible methods as you can and the instruments, principles and simple procedure.”
“Please design an apple picking machine. Draw a picture, point out the name and function of each part.”
Tasks 1 to 4 provides examples to aid the student in understanding exactly what is required.
Task one encourages the student to think of unusual uses for an item, task two requires them to use their imagination and the third task measure for the student’s ability to improve something that already exists. Task four also encourages imagination but requires more of a scientific slant task five measures creative problem solving and task six tests for creative experimental ability. Seven focuses on product design ability.
The test is scored using a combination of a number of responses given, a number of approaches or areas used in the answer and originality of the answer based on all responses received.