Challenging out-of-school activities as a predictor of creative accomplishments in art, drama, dance and social leadership

Milgram, R. M. (2003). Challenging out-of-school activities as a predictor of creative accomplishments in art, drama, dance and social leadership. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 47(3), 305 - 315.

Abstract:

This study seeks to identify creative talent in adolescents by looking at the quantity and quality of their experience in creative extracurricular activities, as measured by the Tel Aviv Activities and Accomplishments Inventory (TAAI). Evidence from prior research suggests that creativity has greater predictive validity for success in life than do measures more typically used to assess talent in youth, such as IQ score or academic achievement. A strong relationship between scores on the TAAI and 222 ninth through twelfth grade students’ authentic performances in art, dance, drama, and social leadership activities suggests that the instrument is a valid means through which to assess creative talent in adolescents.

Key Findings:

Correlations between participants’ scores on the TAAI and their levels of performance in their respective domains were 0.36 for art, 0.57 for dance, 0.42 for drama, and 0.62 for social leadership. These correlations indicate that there is a substantial relationship between youths’ involvement and accomplishment in challenging, non-compulsory activities in an artistic domain as measured by the TAAI and their creative talent in that domain.

Significance of the Findings:

These findings support current research that points to a relationship between adolescents’ participation in the arts and creative and vocational accomplishments and personal satisfaction as adults.

Methodology:

A total of 222 ninth through twelfth grade high school students (159 female, 63 male) volunteered to take part in four separate studies in four different domains. Depending on the study, students were art majors, drama workshop attendees, city youth council members, or dance students. Using the adolescent form of the TAAI, participants self reported their levels of participation and accomplishment in art, creative writing, dance, drama, music, science/mathematics, social leadership, and sports. Participants were judged on their score in the relevant domain. One month after participants completed the TAAI, two independent judges evaluated their performance in an authentic context of the relevant domain. Students’ test scores and authentic performance scores were then correlated.

Limitations of the Research:

This particular study is strictly quantitative. A qualitative research approach could provide a more thorough understanding of the relationship between activities and creative talent. There also is limited descriptive data on the demographic characteristics of the students as well as the depth, rigor and length of their chosen artistic training. Participants of the study self-selected and self-reported, so results are skewed toward students’ view of themselves rather than an objective analysis.

Questions to Guide New Research:

Further research would be strengthened by triangulating methods mixing qualitative and quantitative analyses. In addition, experimental or quasi-experimental research designs could also strengthen findings with the use of a control group.