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Assessing creativity in musical compositions: flow as an assessment tool

Byrne, Charles and MacDonald, Raymond and Carlton, Lana (2003) Assessing creativity in musical compositions: flow as an assessment tool. British Journal of Music Education, 20 (3). pp. 277-290. ISSN 0265-0517

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This study was designed to examine any links between the concept of flow or optimal experience and the creative output of student compositions. The creative products of group compositions by university students ( n=45) were rated for creativity and on a number of standard criteria and compared with scores obtained from Experience Sampling Forms (Csikszentmihalyi and Csikszentmihalyi, 1988) completed by each participant. A significant correlation was found between optimal experience or flow levels of students and the quality of their group compositions as measured by creativity ratings. Some implications for educators and learners in themusic classroom are explored and a proposed self-directed learning tool is discussed. Some of the issues on the assessment of creativity in music raised by Sheridan and Byrne (2002) are also discussed. This paper highlights the subjective nature of existing assessment procedures, considering whether examiners need extended criteria as opposed to a single dimension of creativity. The formative assessment nature of the flow paradigm is also explored.