The Beyonders Program
by Kathy Goff, EdD
Director of the Creative Oklahoma Torrance Center
The term Beyonders is meant to designate individuals in society who exhibit advanced creativity—individuals who move beyond others in terms of the development and application of advanced creative thinking and problem solving abilities. (Torrance, 2002).
The Beyonders Program is a digital education and research program for secondary students created by Vast Learning Systems. This online program offered 4 distinct challenges during the 2014-2015 academic year. The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) based challenges included inventing, creative thinking and imagination, environmental awareness, and entrepreneurship. In the STEM based curriculum, students applied new and previously learned information to creatively address a problem that they had not previously encountered (Roberts, 2012).
Secondary students, aged 11-18 at a residential treatment center, participated in 28 fifty-minute weekly sessions during the school year. Students were digitally introduced to a variety of creative problem solving models that were applied to the local and global challenges.
The Beyonders Program participants took a pre-test, the VCAI (Vast Creative Abilities Indicator) (Goff & Guzik, 2013) digital assessment, in September. During the school year, students experienced the online Beyonders Program weekly during school hours, and were post tested with the VCAI-b in May.
The VCAI-b results showed that 73% of the Beyonders participants (N=27) realized an increase in their creativity scores. The average gain for overall test scores was 17.3 points, an 85% increase between pre and post testing. The SPSS statistical analysis results indicated significant increases (p<.05) in fluency, originality, elaboration and overall creativity. Flexibility showed little difference between pre and post testing.
The Beyonders Program is based on the work of E. Paul Torrance. He believed that learning and thinking creatively takes place in the process of sensing difficulties, problems and/or gaps in information. He also believed in making guesses or formulating hypotheses about these deficiencies, testing these guesses and possibilities, revising and retesting them, and finally in communicating the results (Torrance, 1979).
Though it is uncertain to what extend the Beyonders Program contributed to the significant increase in creativity scores, the fact that the students experienced significant increases in their creativity during the 2014-2015 school year is important. Further investigation and development seems warranted.
Goff, K. and Guzik, E (2013). Vast Creative Abilities Indicator (VCAI): A Cloud Based Assessment for Creative Ability
Roberts, A. (2012). A justification for STEM education. Technology and Engineering Teacher. 3, 1-5.
Torrance, E. P. (1979). The search for satori and creativity. Buffalo, NY: BearlyLimited.
Torrance, E. P. (2002). The manifesto: A guide to developing a creative career. Westport, CT: Ablex Publishing.