This paper follows the authors' and their faculty colleagues' experiences in developing an innovative approach to creative design teaching and assessment. Failure to adequately explain to students how they were to be assessed in creative design had led to a formal appeal by students and an inquiry which focused attention on how difficult it was to define creativity and creative ability. The inquiry led to University pressure for 'objective' or 'transparent' assessment that conformed with the University's 'quality assurance' protocols. From the teachers' perspective, however, creative ability was associated with conceptual ideas that were higher order thinking activities that could not be adequately assessed objectively or transparently in the conventional meanings of these terms. Subsequent investigation showed widespread disagreement among the various design and creative arts disciplines (within the University and beyond) on what constitutes creativity and what constitutes creative ability; whether creative ability is essentially intuitive or essentially rational or procedural; whether creative ability could or should be reduced to quantifiable parameters for assessment; and whether the most important aspects of creative achievement reside in the initial thinking (creative ideas) or in the subsequent process of development of the idea ('crafting' a work of art, design, etc.) or in the creative work that is the end product (the work of art itself). The paper follows, from the perspective of the authors as teachers, curriculum developers and researchers, how a new approach to the problem unfolded, and how a basic empirical research project tracking the psychological processes of inspiration and complex decision-making (and other applied research) contributed to the evolution of an innovative approach to creative design education that recognized multiple levels of creativity and engaged multiple forms of assessment, and that has satisfied both teachers' pursuit of 'realistic' creative thinking objectives and the University's transparency and accountability agenda.
Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education Vol. 5, Issue 2, p. 97-117