Scholarly article on topic 'Nature of Changes in Creativity Scores in Preschool and Junior Schoolchildren'

Nature of Changes in Creativity Scores in Preschool and Junior Schoolchildren Academic research paper on "Psychology"

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{"creativity factors" / criteria / intelligence / dynamics}

Abstract of research paper on Psychology, author of scientific article — Diana B. Bogoyavlenskaya

Abstract The article grounds the topicality of the conducted research, which is associated with social demand for development of creative personality starting from the preschool age. This required the clarification of the nature of diagnostic creativity scores and their dynamics. We elicited the factors that are responsible for their increase: changes in motor sphere in children of 6 – 8 affect the speed of movements; the lack of operations for classification of objects and some compensatory mechanisms in junior school children with low intelligence lead to high scores of originality. Thus, high scores on the Torrance test don’t unequivocally indicate creative abilities in children.

Academic research paper on topic "Nature of Changes in Creativity Scores in Preschool and Junior Schoolchildren"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 86 (2013) 358 - 362

V Congress of Russian Psychological Society

Nature of Changes in Creativity Scores in Preschool and Junior


Diana B. Bogoyavlenskaya*

_Psychological Institute of Russian Academy of Education, Ul. Mohovaya, 9, building 4, Moscow, 125009, Russia_


The article grounds the topicality of the conducted research, which is associated with social demand for development of creative personality starting from the preschool age. This required the clarification of the nature of diagnostic creativity scores and their dynamics. We elicited the factors that are responsible for their increase: changes in motor sphere in children of 6 - 8 y.o. affect the speed of movements; the lack of operations for classification of objects and some compensatory mechanisms in junior school children with low intelligence lead to high scores of originality. Thus, high scores on the Torrance test don't unequivocally indicate creative abilities in children.

© 2013The Authors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.

Selectionand/orpeer-reviewunderresponsibilityofRussianPsychologicalSociety Keywords: creativity factors; criteria; intelligence; dynamics

1. Introduction

The topicality of the problem of detection and supporting creative gifted children is growing intensively in the last quarter of the century. Currently, on the ground of The Conception of the Nationwide System of Finding and Developing Young Talents, signed by the President of the Russian Federation, range of measures for its realization has been elaborated. One of the crucial, theoretically and practically difficult issues of the named problem is the early detection of giftedness.

Thus, the necessity of this research was determined by: firstly, the need to clarify the nature of the diagnostic scores on creativity and their dynamics, and, secondly, the need to understand what lies behind the increase in

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +7-916-354-47-88. E-mail address:

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.

Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of Russian Psychological Society


creativity scores and what are the pitfalls of the identification of creativity and its dynamics with the help of the TTCT.

2. Research method

In the framework of the testological paradigm, J. Guilford separated coefficients of creativity factors Cr from the rest of the factors of intelligence IQ, and this gave start to differentiation of cognitive abilities into 3 types of giftedness: academic, intellectual and creative. The last one is diagnosed with the wide-spread Torrance Tests of Creativity Thinking. The author suggested their use in 5 year olds. But they are massively used in 3 - 4 year olds.

Due to the wide circulation of this test in the educational practice it is highly important to check if it does measure creative giftedness. Whilst the general indicator of creativity consists of the 4 main criteria: fluency, flexibility, elaboration and originality, our task is to determine the nature of their dynamics and content that stand behind them.

3. Experimental study of creativity.

The studies of the dynamics of creativity indicators in the late preschool - junior school age were conducted by us in 4 longitudinal experiments with the help of our PhD students E.S. Zhukova (from 3 year olds to the end of junior school), S.P. Osirenko (from the 1st to the 7th grade in different schools), E.I. Banzeljuk (from progymnasium to the end of secondary school), V.A. Korneeva (from elder preschoolers to secondary art school). Each study had its own dominating aspect, but all of them appeared as controls in relation to the elicited facts.

3.1. Specifics of work with preschoolers

Due to the limits of this paper we give more detail just to one of the collected facts, which is usually absent in the studies of creativity. We received it in the process of the PhD research of E.I. Baseljuk [1] on the sample of 152 students of the Moscow secondary language school from 6 to 16 y.o.. They were tested repeatedly during the 10-year longitude (from pro-gymnasium to the 9th grade).

The processing of the TTCT forms was done in 2 modifications [2; 3; 4]. The analysis of the experimental data was also performed in 2 versions of the test. The use of the early modification (1974) was determined by its wide circulation in practice [2; 4]. Besides, only this version allows us to compare our data to the data of other researchers [5; 6]. In our sample, with the transition from preschool to junior school (6-7 years) the characteristics of creativity (fluency, flexibility, originality, elaboration) were growing significantly (Wilcoxon test, p<.01). Furthermore, we found that the characteristics of flexibility and originality were increasing along with the indicator of fluency (non-parametric Spearman correlation, .6; .

intensity of shifts toward growth in comparison to the 1st grade (7 y.o) increases with the same significance level ^<.01) only in the IQ scale. In the scales of fluency, flexibility and originality the significance of the shift toward growth becomes lower (p<.05), and in the scale of elaboration it even becomes insignificant.

The comparison of the subjects' forms and observation of their work in the process of the testing show that during the prescribed 10 minutes (according to the instruction) the 1st graders manage to draw much more positions in the 2nd and the 3rd tasks of the TTCT than the

gymnasium group children manage to accomplish 8 (out of 10) positions in the 2nd task and 9 (out of 30) in the 3rd task; while in the 1st grade almost all the children manage to draw 10 figures in the 2nd task and approximately 18 figures in the 3rd task. The 2nd graders accomplish approximately 23 drawings in range

of facts explains this trend. In the process of testing we observed some differences in the performance of the progymnasium students and the 1st graders. The pro-gymnasium students worked passionately, used more colored pencils, but they worked slowly (they spent more time on each drawing). Despite the given instruction about the

time-limit (10 minutes) they were not in a hurry, possibly due to the undeveloped "sense of time". During the interview we found out that most of them didn't understand the time-limits. They saw no difference between 10 and 30 minutes lesson, couldn't answer whether it is long or short, and each one had his own opinion if his usual class (30 minutes) lasted for long or for short. In its turn, it is also determined by many factors: interest in activity, relationship with the teacher, etc.. That is why each one worked at his accustomed pace as while accomplishing the tasks by L.A. Wenger [7], which do not have time-limits. This explains the wide range in the scale of fluency in the pro-gymnasium group (from 2 to 35), while in the 1st grade it narrows (from 15 to 40).

3.2 Specifics of work with 1st graders

A completely different picture is observed in the 1st graders: they are in a hurry and try to draw as much lines as they can. Thus, it is seen that school practice "left its mark on them": they acquired the tendency to accomplish the whole scope of the proposed work, in order to meet the standard of the "able" student. That is why many drawings are made in haste, negligently, though supplied with thoughtful titles.

It is important to note, that 7 - 8 year olds are physically more ready for this work. It explains the fact that along with general negligence the thoroughness of the drawings is growing, since fine motor skills are already well elaborated: pupils aptly change colors, quickly shade and add details, still being able to draw the whole picture, while a pro-gymnasium child is busy with "making smooth strokes in order to paint the dress".

This corresponds to the fact that from the age of 7 and up to the ages of 12 - 14 the morphological maturation of the motor cortex finishes "In this age sensory and motor axones reach their maturity" [5, p. 134]. Essencially, "that the duration of the motor cycle shortens considerably with age, and notably, the most pronounced changes of this spectrum happen in the ages from 6 to 8. Highly significant differences (p<.01) of mean values of this characteristic were found in pairwise comparison of the groups of 6 and 7, 7 and 8 year olds." [5, p. 249].

Thus, changes in the motor sphere from 6 to 8 y.o. are the most pronounced, which affects the speed and the accuracy of movements. Thus, time-limits in the TTCT place children of 6, 7 and 8 y.o. on absolutely unequal footing which limits actions of smaller children. They simply can't "keep up" with the elders, and this means that we cannot compare the final results (in scores) without correction for the age. E.V. Gurjanov, who studied development of graphic skills in children, noted that children, who made drawings that were reacher in content were also more skillful artists. Those children, who confined themselves to repetition of simple schemes, were also poor at drawing technics. At the same time, almost all children (in terms of age and development they matched with our pro-gymnasium children) "were drawing with hard rough lines, tightly gripping the pencils and pressing them on paper strongly" [8]. We know that the lack of hand mobility considerably slows down writing and drawing. For more speed the movements should be light and free, without unnesessary muscular tension [2]. We also need to take into account that quality of drawing is consistent with quality of writing, and according to the data from a number of studies the speed of writing in the 1st grade accelerates in 2-3 times from November to May (interestingly, according to our data, the average rate of fluency also increases twicely from pro-gymnasium to the 1st grade); in the 2nd grade (from September to May) - again almost twicely; and in the 3rd grade (from September to May) - just a little [8]. That is why in junior school "the higher is the grade, the higher is the average speed of writing in pupils".

3.3 Shortcomings of test standardization

Thus, positive changes in fluency scores in the ages 6 - 7 - 8 are largely determined by natural development of psycho-physiological functions, i.e. they have not only psychological, but also physiological nature. The influence of the maturation factor of the pre-motor cortex areas and the development of motor skills is so high, that it doesn't allow evaluating fluency per se (quantity of ideas in the unite of time), for children not so much

time in production of ideas, rather than in their application. In addition to the fact that all junior children find themselves in less favorable terms in comparison with the elders (as the test has just one table of standardization for children from 5 to 10 y.o.), the authors of the Russian TTCT adaptation [9], referring that mean scores of the adapted test in Russian pupils "differed little from the creativity scores in American students of the same ages" [9, p. 31 - 32], saw it fit to avoid the procedure of standardization and take T-scale as a basis for translation of initial scores into standard ones by P. Torrance, which do not take into account the specifics of 5 — 10 year olds. (Torrance himself supposed that factor irrelevant. The authors of this adaptation didn't work with preschoolers, and in elder children this difference is not that noticeable, probably this is the reason why it didn't meet the eye of the researchers). But even in children of the same age the advantage have those ones, who surpass others in development of motor skills, which is possibly caused by accelerated brain maturation. Thus, it turns out that advantages of these children are determined by age specifics, which may not be significant in the long run. Probably, this is the reason why there are no children, who show stable results over the years. On the contrary, children surpass each other, as "acceleration and retardation of mental development... happen in each child in its due time, as it is caused by brain maturation and to a large extent genetically determined" [6, p. 17]. Besides, it is worth mentioning, that time-limits and quantitative treatment of results lead to disregard of action specifics in slowly working children.

The discovered facts correspond to the empiric data of other researchers [4], who traced the increase of all creativity scores during 6 months in 1st and 2nd grades. However, the authors of these studies explained the growth of the indexes only by the effectiveness of the developmental program and didn't take into account the influence of age on creativity scores.

In the later modification of the test, which was executed by Torrance in 1984 and adapted in Russia [2], the author himself tried to eliminate the influence of age specifics by changing the procedure of the processing: to use not 3 or 4, but 2-point scale for measuring originality. Moreover, the manual has the formula for conversion of raw scores into T-scores [2, p. 155], which allow neutralizing age specifics of the sample (he gives arithmetic means and standard deviations for each age group (yearly)). But in the Russian adaptation the groups of 6 - 7, 8 -9, 11 - 12 and 13 - 14 are combined. To our opinion, it is inadmissible, as it copies the mistakes of the earlier modification, leveling them just mildly.

Consequently, the same comparisons, which were made according to the new modification of the test, (in fluency, originality, elaboration, resistance to premature closure, abstractness of titles [3]) showed that in the 1st grade the intensity of shifts towards growth in all categories exceeds the intensity of shifts towards lowering in comparison with the pro-gymnasium group (in 6 year olds) ^<01).

3.4 Study of creativity in 2nd-3rd grades

In comparison with the 1st grade, in the 2nd grade (at the age of 8) the intensity of shifts toward growth exceeds the intensity of shifts toward lowering with the same significance (p<.01) only in categories of fluency, originality, elaboration and abstractness of titles, and in category of resistance to premature closure the intensity of shifts becomes non-significant. In the 3rd grade, at the age of 9, the tendency for averaging results becomes notable. We used the new version of the TTCT in the longitudinal study and checked the shift toward growth of scores in the 4th measurement (in 9 year olds) with the Wilcoxon criterion. There were no significant differences in categories of fluency, originality and elaboration [3]. The correlation analysis showed that in the 3rd grade the characteristics of fluency and originality are still interrelated (non-parametric Spearman correlation .6, p<.01). Consequently, with the change of grade from 2nd to 3rd the characteristics of fluency, originality and elaboration stop growing. As far as the time cycle stops shortening precisely at the age of 8 - 9 [5, p. 249] originality scores change in accordance with it.

4 Discussion

The received data of these studies correspond to our hypotheses that in 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 y.o. fluency scores are determined by maturation of the premotor brain areas.

Another important fact is that the number of answers that go beyond the scope of conventional is lowering during this period. It corresponds to the age specifics of preschoolers, as the basic qualities of productive thinking and particularly the sorting out and classification according to essential properties of objects are not formed in them yet [10]. In the PhD research by Korneeva we found statistically significant correlation between high originality scores in preschoolers and their lack of operations for finding out essential properties of objects. So, on the contrary, high creativity scores in preschoolers speak for the fact that the child is still far from the norm and even farther from creativity.

Along with that, in all our studies on creativity tests we systematically receive facts of correlation between high creativity scores and high or low IQ scores. It is the result of the test instructions, which demand as much unconventional answers as possible and stimulate not only productive process, but a number of roundabout artificial tricks, which have no whatsoever connection to creativity. In several diploma and PhD studies [1; 11; 12] we found increase in high creativity rates in junior school children with low IQ and high achievement motivation, which rather speaks for compensatory and psychological defense mechanisms [11]. Thus, high scores in the TTCT don't speak univocally for creative abilities in children.


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