When it comes to deciding who gets into college and who doesn't, Robert Sternberg thinks there are more important factors than a student's ability to regurgitate facts on a test blank.
Tests like the ACT and SAT do a reasonably good job of evaluating what a student knows, he said. But traditional testing methods can't measure a student's ability to think creatively, which is also a major predictor of the student's academic potential.
A cognitive psychologist by trade, Sternberg serves as the provost at Oklahoma State University.
At a forum on creativity next month, he will discuss ideas on how to measure a student's academic potential in ways beyond those that the ACT and SAT reach.
Creative Oklahoma, a statewide nonprofit organization, will hold its 2012 State of Creativity Forum on Nov. 13 at the Cox Convention Center in Oklahoma City. The event is the third of its kind the organization has held.
Sternberg was instrumental in creating OSU's Panorama program, a new admissions method that asks students to submit an original creative work, like a work of art, a song or a piece of writing.
Measuring factors like a student's ethics, character and capacity for creative thinking gives a better picture of how the student will fare in a rapidly changing world, he said.
In a world marked by constant political, social and personal changes, he said, the ability to think creatively isn't just helpful — it's necessary. Anyone who can't keep up will quickly find himself out of date, he said.
“Creativity isn't just for gifted people,” he said. “It's for everyone.”
During the forum, Sternberg will be part of a wide-ranging lineup of speakers that also includes education innovator Ken Robinson and Peter Diamandis, CEO of the X Prize Foundation.