E. Paul Torrance, perhaps one of the most prominent scholars of creativity, conducted a variety of studies exploring the teaching and learning of creativity. His studies identified specific skills associated with creativity, and demonstrated success in the teaching of creativity through the Torrance Incubation Model of Creative Teaching and Learning (TIM).
The Torrance Incubation Model of Creative Teaching and Learning can be applied to a lesson, unit or project. The application of TIM and the identification of a specific creativity skill is an effective way to teach creativity, without impacting the teaching of core objectives or curriculum content. TIM, has three stages:
Stage One, Heighten Anticipation, is designed to adequately and mentally prepare the student (or students) for the project ahead. Torrance describes this as a ‘Warming Up Period’ with the following six functions, (1) Create the Desire to Know, (2) Heighten Anticipation and Expectation, (3) Get Attention, (4) Arouse Curiosity, (5) Tickle the Imagination, and (6) Give Purpose and Motivation.
Stage Two, Deepen Expectations, is where the problem is defined, applied, and the creativity is nurtured. A list of actions or metaphors communicate the development process. For example ‘Digging Deeper’ is an action that encourages students to go beyond the surface of the problem (identify the unknown), discover things that were missed, synthesize the information, and begin to come up with solutions and actions that can be applied to the project.
Stage Three, Extend the Learning, is another list of metaphors that encourages students to take the lead and apply the project in a real context to extend their learning. For example, ‘Building Sand Castles’ is a metaphor that challenges students to use their imagination and discover ways to extend the project to the real world.
Through his studies Torrance identified specific behaviors associated with those that demonstrated creative accomplishments. These behaviors were characterized into three elements, Ability, Skill, and Motivation, and helped form the foundations of the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT).
Torrance’s studies documented success in teaching creativity when these skills were taught. As part of the Torrance Incubation Model of Creative Teaching and Learning, one creative skill must be identified and taught during the implementation of the class, unit or project. While it may be possible to teach more then one skill, Torrance believed that there was more value and success focusing exclusively on one, rather then a variety.
Digital Media and Movie Making
The Digital Media and Movie Making course has successfully tripled its content and significantly improved the technical literacy of submissions during its first three years. Unfortunately, it has had less success in merging technical literacy with creativity. While some submissions each year can be considered creative, others struggle to engage students in the content being explored and communicated.
Submissions to the Connecticut Student Film Festival explore ‘Themes’ that challenge students to identify and investigate 21st Century problems, and how these problems relate to their local community. These themes are explored and communicated during movie making projects, and have sometimes been signified by students and teachers as the reasoning for a lack of creativity. Themes such as the ‘Environment’ or ‘Sustainability’ have been considered boring, not engaging, and too restrictive in approach to story development.
Its challenging to understand why topics so broad and diverse as the ‘Environment’ and ‘Sustainability’ are the reason for a lack of creativity, especially when each year there are creative projects produced from this criteria. It is more likely that the reason for a lack of creativity is associated with how students and teachers approach the project.
The Digital Media and Movie Making course is delivered in a project-based, student-centered, blended-learning environment. Students focus on developing digital literacy skills and identifying specialized interests during the first semester, these are then applied to group film projects in the second semester when the following assumptions are made.
- That the teacher has conducted formative assessments during the first semester and has a record of the skills and interests of each student.
- That the students have been involved in the assessment process and have conducted a self-evaluation to identify a role and responsibility that they find challenging and engaging.
- That the students are literate and confident in the technology associated with their role and responsibility.
- That a student-centered, project-based learning environment has been established.
Here is a previous assignment associated with the theme ‘Sustainability’.
Dear Movie Maker,
In this assignment you will produce a Documentary Short targeted toward your local community. Your project should identify a question that is explored through a documentary project and relates to the theme ‘Sustainability’.
An example of a question to explore
How can young Americans demand real solutions towards a sustainable future? Can active participation in the democratic process, both locally and nationally, make a difference?
Your film should demonstrate an in-depth understanding of your identified topic, and a proposed solution to the question explored.
During the 2011/2012 academic year I hope to apply the Torrance Incubation Model to the Digital Media and Movie Making course in order to investigate its success in merging technical literacy and creativity. Download this proposal in full to investigate how TIM can be applied to similar projects.