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Tufts Tests For Creativity--Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Others Should too.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on July 7, 2006

Universities are beginning to make creativity and innovation criteria for admission for freshman. Check out this item in higher education that describes Tufts University’s new policy. This is a very important event and Tufts is being a pioneer here. Creativity and innovation are not the same thing as science and math and differentiating the two is critical. Hardly any school does. Very few corporations do. And federal government policy does not. Yet innovation and creativity will be the major sources for growth in the future.

Tufts is asking applicants to write essays or send videos that reflect the creativity of the individual, not simply measure content knowledge. The insidehighered article goes on to say:

“The idea is to change the admissions process from one that focuses only on a subset of analytic qualities — the kinds that can be measured by grades and test scores — and to look more broadly at ways to measure creativity and leadership potential. The approach is based on the work of Robert Sternberg, a psychologist who specializes in measuring intelligence and promoting creativity. Sternberg left Yale University last year to become dean of the School of Arts and Sciences at Tufts.”

Some 15,000 students applied to Tufts last year and 27% got in. Now the school will be making creativity part of that adminission’s process. Bravo.

Reader Comments

steve baker

July 8, 2006 5:06 PM

Bruce, Now maybe Tufts can build a computer system to read, analyze and rank those essays automatically. People I'm talking to are designing these things. They analyze syntax, grammar, sophistication of word choice--everything, it seems, but creativity. Of course the trouble for scoring creativity is that anyone who thinks you can score it probably isn't too creative in the first place.

Andy Summers

July 10, 2006 4:00 PM

This is a promising step, and as it is adopted more widely, it will hopefully exert downward pressure on elementary and and high school curricula to move it to a post-industrial revolution education system better structured to prepare students for the very different world they are entering. Maybe they will stop cutting art and music classes, for instance.

It would be nice to see employers embrace this as well. I view myself as quite innovative and creative but have no formal training to back that up. I read in INside Innovation that companies are desparate for innovative people, but the reality I see is they are looking for people with degrees in design, anthropology, sociology, etc. If I have none of these, and little time to get them, how do I prove my capabilities?

I have a particular passion for customer experience, for example, though my resume only points to this generally. Business Week recently highlighted three companies - Dell, NWA, and Home Depot- that are struggling with low customer satisfaction. In about 30 minutes of brainstorming, I came up with 5 good ideas to help each one, but what do I do with that? How about a recruiting process that uses a similar case study approach? Let me submit essays along with my application and resume to better judge my creative abilties Innovate the recruiting and hiring process, for heaven's sake.


June 12, 2010 10:06 PM

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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