Creativity and Innovation: A comparative Analysis of Definitions and Assessment Measures


measuring innovation, creativity testing, definition of creativity


The purpose of this paper is to present and discuss the misalignment and use of creativity testing for purposes of measuring innovation. Numerous definitions of creativity exist, which have spawned the development of various creativity tests. Although these tests have been based on accepted definitions of creativity – such as “a behavior that is imaginative and inventive” (Guilford, pp. 444, 1950)4 – these definitions have historically been applicable to domains separate from Technology and Engineering, focusing rather on the arts and psychology. Creativity as it pertains to technology and engineering is a subcomponent of innovation. Because creativity is only a part of innovation, we believe that creativity tests should not be used to evaluate or assess innovation. We believe that innovation is distinctly different than creativity. Innovation is structured creativity focused on producing an innovative product, service, or system. In essence it is a “practical creativity.” Although related, creativity and innovation are distinct and different. Consequently they should use distinct and different assessments. Paradoxically, most efforts to measure innovation are based on creativity definitions and tests, or only focus on production. This paper compares and contrasts the definitions, assessments, and instructional practices of creativity and innovation, in an effort to further clarify how and what should be taught regarding innovation, and how it might be more effectively measured.

Original Publication Citation

Wright, G., Howell, B., & Skaggs, P. (2011) Creativity and Innovation: A Comparative Analysis of Definitions and Assessment Measures. Conference Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education’s 118th Annual Conference and Exposition (ASEE 2011), Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. June 2011.

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Conference Paper

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Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering and Technology



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor