MindLink is a digital learning environment designed to promote and assess creativity and other higher order thinking skills in Oklahoma classrooms. The digital tools are currently being piloted in 12 Oklahoma A+ Schools in Oklahoma and will be used to help assess student problem solving, collaboration, communication skills, and creative and critical thinking.
In 2011, we completed an initial pilot with 12 K-12 classrooms throughout the state of Oklahoma. The project included the development of original student work and projects, including Cross-Curriculum Problem Solving, Community and Global Problem Solving, and Student Invention Ideas. Teacher training and professional development were based on the theories and practical application of learning frameworks developed by Guilford, Bloom, Torrance, and Sternberg. Evaluation of student work was completed using an assessment framework developed by Dr. Robert Sternberg, who also provided consultation into applying his WICS model of creativity. We are currently expanding the pilot to include additional schools in Oklahoma, Massachusetts, and Kenya. We are are very interested in adding additional partners to the project.
Findings & Achievements:
Our project began as a very broad interest in promoting higher order thinking in Oklahoma. Through our participation in the Catalyst Network, we have developed a set of digital tools to identify, track, and assess creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, and other 21st century skills. The tools allow students to work as teams on projects created by teachers, program administrators, or students themselves. Our first finding: creativity can be measured using online technologies, supporting seminal research into creativity assessments provided by Guilford, Torrance, and Sternberg. Our second finding: evaluators and teachers can be trained to assess student creativity, and the inter-rater reliability of the assessment tools is extremely high. Our third finding: the assessment (and expectation) of creativity promotes the generation of creative products by students and teachers; indeed, as part of our pilot, teachers themselves created a variety of innovative, unexpected, and cross-curricular problem solving projects for students, including Cinderella and the Scientific Process, The Hamlet Prezi, Understanding the Causes of Historical Change, Invent a Hero, and many others. Our fourth finding: creativity appears across disciplines and is not in itself domain-specific (that is, creative output is certainly not limited to the arts or the study of music). Our fifth finding: the promotion of creative thinking and problem solving supports higher achievement in core content areas (a discovery that has been replicated a number of times in other studies).
In 2011, our work with the Catalyst Initiative received the Great Inspirations Award by Creative Oklahoma, Inc. and the statewide 2011 Oklahoma Creativity Award by the Oklahoma Journal Record.
Collaboration within Catalyst:
In-state: Creative Oklahoma; Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education; Oklahoma A+ Schools; Oklahoma State University; and The USAO Foundation.
Out-of –state: Carnegie Mellon; Colorado Schools of Mines; and Fundacion Universidad de las Americas, Puebla
Organizers have done a wonderful job creating and running the consortia, including providing opportunities for collaboration among members. Continuing and additional venues for collaboration opportunities would continue to be extremely helpful.