Super-power Creativity with Comparative Judgement


Creativity you say - does anyone really care?

Thursday April 21st 2022 is the United Nations World Creativity and Innovation Day. So what I hear you say? Well this is the just the latest effort being made to highlight the growing importance of both to pretty much everyone. You can add to this the new PISA Creative Thinking assessments (more about that later) taking place this year as another highly influential global body pushing the same narrative.

The importance of creativity and innovation can be looked at from a number of angles - economic, cultural and personal. There really is little downside. It's one of those things that governments the world over are desperate to encourage and improve. There is even a Global Innovation Index that tracks the latest global innovation ranking of 132 economies, relying on 81 different indicators.

PISA are assessing creativity?

The pandemic delayed things for 12 months, but we are now ready for the next set of PISA tests. Over half a million 15-year-olds from OECD countries (England is a notable absentee having decided not to take part back in 2019) will knuckle down to produce the latest barometer of the effectiveness of an education systems performance. While the efficacy and worth of such an exercise is hotly debated, there is no doubt about its influence on governments and policy makers. When the results are published in 2024 they will make a significant impact to the way education is approached in pretty much every territory.

One (of the many) criticisms of the PISA tests to this point is how the process, and particularly the reporting via international 'league tables', has been an education passion killer. In particular it is claimed it encouraged nations to prioritise teaching to the test rather than anything creative. This is happening when the Artificial Intelligence makes the uniquely human skill of creativity even more important than ever.

The pressure from Government for a more rounded approach has been growing. Recently the Irish Minister for Education announced some sweeping changes with a dramatic reduction in exam based assessment partly driven by the desire to free up teachers to be more creative. At the same time, Singapore (one of PISA's consistently high performing territories), continue to push forward with its mission and vision of Thinking Schools, Learning Nation by "seeking better ways of doing things through participation, creativity and innovation".

In response PISA, will for the first time, be adding Creative Thinking to its assessments in Reading, Mathematics and Science.

But can you teach creativity, let alone assess it?

PISA are pretty sure you can do both (and so do many others). PISA has been taking a look at this for a while and has a run some international pilots. The learnings have been used to produce a Creative Design Framework. The challenges here are not insignificant, not least the ability to test and measure across cultures and territories. The Framework has some interesting principles which, it claims, encourages curriculum development and teaching as well as providing means of summative and formative assessment. The PISA assessment approach for creativity is driven by rubrics. Using onscreen testing (The PISA Visual Design Tool), students are able to complete a range of tasks that test a range of skills described on the rubric.

But surely creativity is, by its very nature, more suited to relative rather than absolute judgements?

We think so. Creativity has to encourage diverse responses and traditional (rubric based absolute judgements) are just not very good at assessing them. Worse than that, the reliance on the 'absolute' approach can restrict curriculum design and pedagogical approaches.

If you haven't already done so spend a bit of time reading around the type of things being done with RM Compare and it becomes pretty compelling that a 'relative' approach is the one of the best ways forward for creativity teaching, learning and assessment. For example:

So what next for Creativity and RM Compare?

We are working on a bunch of stuff and releasing new functionality all the time. The thing about creativity of course is that there is never a single use case and we are always surprised and delighted with the amazing things our creative users do with the tool.

Encouraging creativity is a passion for the RM Compare team - expect to see lots more about this. If you have some great ideas or examples please send them in to We read every single response.