In this final blog post of our series “How to prove & Improve your Soft Skills” we conclude our journey through the soft skills that matter with a special focus on creativity. In our previous blog posts, we explored critical thinking and problem solving with examples of how to develop and demonstrate these crucial soft skills through question-asking.
We continue on the same path for reaching our final destination, creativity:
- Define and explain it as a dynamic process (the what)
- Identify the value it has in all aspects of our lives (the why)
- Explore the ways it can be accelerated in the context of inquiry-based learning (the how) with real-life examples from the 100mentors app!
WHAT is Creativity?
We usually see creativity as a process that generates products, ideas, or even performances that are both original and effective (Glăveanu, 2018). However, you may notice that this is a pretty static way to perceive creativity that focuses less on a creative process and more on a creative result.
So let’s take a step back and wonder: what does it take to be a person that shows creativity throughout a process and not just at the finish line?
Creativity contains and is fostered by:
- authenticity, meaning to construct original representations of experiences (Runco, 2019, p. 184). The most utterly authentic people are young children. Being true to themselves, they bring to the table mind-blowing creative approaches to all sorts of things. “Out of the box” thinking is all they can do, because they just don’t recognize the very existence of “the box” (Grammenos, 2014).
- uncertainty (or inconclusiveness). Again, young children want to try everything, hoping that they will discover something new with each attempt. They inherently know that if you already know where you are going, you are not going someplace new (Grammenos, 2014, p. 59).
However, growing up we discover that our creativity needs to be balanced between intention and discretion. As students, employers, and citizens, we learn to recognize the contexts that (a) are worth investing our creativity in, and (b) require us to retain our creativity, mostly for social reasons (Runco, 2019).
WHY Creativity matters?
Our creative spirit faces a paradox as it must be both “dead and alive” at all times (like the famous Schrödinger’s cat in quantum physics). Why do most of us still desperately want to cultivate it?
Creativity is largely considered today synonymous with success. It is the success enjoyed by creative people who are accomplished in both their personal and professional life; the success of innovative institutions capable of thriving in the complex and dynamic work environments of today; the success of countries that cultivate a healthy creative industries sector and invest in research and development.(Glăveanu, 2018, p. 25)
A distinction needs to be made at this point: our genius-type creativity (if we have any) may only rarely be groundbreaking or transformational for a field, but our everyday creativity can be transformational for us day-by-day in various aspects of our lives (Ilha Villanova & Pina e Cunha, 2021).
HOW to develop & evaluate Creativity?
The adoption of a dynamic understanding of creativity requires a careful look at the creative process rather than the creative outcome. However, common creativity assessment tools lose sight of the process as they provide “one and done” estimates of the final product (Beghetto & Corazza, 2019). How can we keep track of creativity… every step of the way?
At 100mentors, we utilize the strong connection between questioning and soft skills to enable learners to practice their creativity skill and provide a way to evaluate their level. Here is how technology and human capital combine to achieve that:
When mentors evaluate learners’ questions in terms of creativity and share respective feedback on their answers, they challenge learners to embrace their uncertainty and authenticity and train them to thrive in all fields: studies, work, and personal life.
Plus, they actively participate in the learners’ endeavor to claim the 100mentors’ Learner Certificate on Soft Skills Training!
How does it work?
To evaluate the learner’s creativity, we integrated an established system for assessment (Fuller & Dawson, 2017). For the creativity context, we share below our interpretation of each level. To make this truly simple, we suggest examining the question for two main creativity components:
- Revealing uncertainty for the formulated suggestion(s)
- Expressing ideas so authentic that may seem bizarre at first
You can use the table below to reflect on your question as a learner or offer advice on how to improve a question if you are a mentor!
Let’s try out these guidelines in practice with two questions from the 100mentors app. For each question, we make iterations to share tangible examples of related questions that match the rest of the creativity levels.
Question 1: “How can people find my business?”
Education Level: Lifelong Learning/Adult learning
Question 2: “What actions can we take to support our students’ mental health?”
Topic: Empowering teachers and students in distance education
Education Level: Lifelong Learning/Teachers’ training
As we also noted for the question evaluation in terms of critical thinking and problem solving, we may not agree on the exact level a question belongs to. The learner can see the mentors’ different perspectives and they can share more detailed feedback through their answers, supporting a discussion that further stimulates creativity.
We may think that assessing creativity objectively would make for the most accurate tool. On the contrary, it turns out that the subjective assessment of creativity is actually more valid since it takes into account the multidimensional characteristics of this complex soft skill (Park et al., 2016). Because, after all, the best way to develop our human skills is to interact with humans.
Did you enjoy our approach to creativity? Subscribe to our blog so you can be among the first to download our “How to prove & Improve your Soft Skills” bound in an ebook!
Beghetto, R. A., & Corazza, G. E. (2019). Introduction to the Volume. In R. A. Beghetto & G. E. Corazza (Eds.), Dynamic Perspectives on Creativity (pp. 1–3). Springer Nature Switzerland.
Fuller, J. S., & Dawson, K. M. (2017). Student Response Systems for Formative Assessment: Literature-based Strategies and Findings from a Middle School Implementation. CONTEMPORARY EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY, 8(4), 370–389.
Glăveanu, V. P. (2018). Educating which creativity? Thinking Skills and Creativity, 27, 25–32.
Grammenos, D. (2014). Stupidity, ignorance, and nonsense as tools for creative thinking. Interactions, 21(5), 54–59.
Ilha Villanova, A. L., & Pina e Cunha, M. (2021). Everyday Creativity: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Creative Behavior, 55(3), 673–695.
Park, N. K., Chun, M. Y., & Lee, J. (2016). Revisiting Individual Creativity Assessment: Triangulation in Subjective and Objective Assessment Methods. Creativity Research Journal, 28(1), 1–10.
Runco, M. A. (2019). Creativity as a Dynamic, Personal, Parsimonious Process. In R. A. Beghetto & G. E. Corazza (Eds.), Dynamic Perspectives on Creativity (pp. 181–188). Springer Nature Switzerland.