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Claire Stevenson

University of Amsterdam

Early Career Research Fellow
Assistant Professor
University of Amsterdam
The Netherlands

PhD, Psychology
Leiden University, 2012
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Research Focus
Claire Stevenson has a background in developmental psychology, psychometrics and computer science and a drive to understand “From a toddler’s first building-block tower to Picasso’s Guernica– How do people learn to accomplish such awesome creative acts?”. Her research focuses on how intelligence and creativity develop. She uses tools such as dynamic testing and learning analytics to gain insight into how children learn to creatively solve problems and how this changes over time. She develops and tests mathematical models of these cognitive developmental processes to improve our understanding of creativity and developing intelligence.

My plans for the fellowship period
The main focus of my research during the fellowship is on how creativity develops and prospers from childhood to adulthood. Creativity is crucial for medical breakthroughs, awe-inspiring art, and technical innovations. Although creativity has been studied extensively, no theory or model explains how creativity develops. The goal of this project is to create a developmental model of creativity that explains developmental phenomena, predicts unknown phenomena, identifies developmental mechanisms, and provides insights on when and how to intervene. This project tackles this feat by (1) creating a playful adaptive learning environment to reliably assess creativity development over time, (2) determining which developmental phenomena in creativity can be replicated, and then (3) deriving a formal developmental model of creativity.
The results of this project will create reliable measures of creative ability for ecologically valid longitudinal assessment in school settings, construct a comprehensive picture of developmental milestones in creativity and windows of opportunity to foster its growth, provide a testable model of creativity development that can steer future research, and perhaps most importantly, an adaptive learning environment covering a broad range of content that can be used daily by children to playfully develop their creative thinking skills.

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives?
This project will directly change children’s and youth’s lives by creating an adaptive digital learning environment where they can playfully practice creative problem solving in math, word and reasoning games at their own changing ability level. At the same time, we will track how children’s creative problem-solving changes over time and use this information to devise a formal model of how creativity develops. This model will lead to insights and predictions that can be tested with ongoing data collection. We will answer age-old questions about the nature and nurture of creativity and how it develops. For example, “Does creativity dip during elementary school?”, “Is adolescence an optimal period to train creative thinking?” and “Do you have to be smart to be creative?”. For educators in particular, a main result is a comprehensive picture of developmental milestones in creativity and windows of opportunity to foster its growth. As such, insights gained from this project could then impact children’s and youth’s lives by influencing educational practice and policy.

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