Dr. Calvin W. Taylor was an important figure in the study of human creativity. During the mid-1950s, in response to the Sputnik launch and other cold war pressures, the United States began to devote increased funding to the development of scientific talent. Taylor led several NSF-sponsored conferences on scientific creativity (i.e., the Utah Conferences) that brought together a diversity of perspectives and expertise to discuss issues related to the development of scientific talent. Taylor edited several important books that emerged from the Utah Conferences, many of which are still widely used today.
Taylor, through his own basic research and educational theory, extended and implemented Thurstone's factor analysis studies on The Vectors of Mind into application by developing and implementing the Multiple Creative Talent Teaching Approach. Taylor stated that not all gifted individuals excelled in the same talents. Gifted students who have been evaluated in one talent area as talented may not be very talented in another talent area, and vice versa. Basing his ideas partially on Guilford's Structure of the Intellect model, Taylor found that typical intelligence tests measure only a small fraction of talents that have actually been identified, 10 percent at most.
Taylor proposed that multiple talents should be evaluated in the classroom in order to identify more students as gifted in recognized talent areas. Nine talent areas that Taylor has identified for instructional emphasis include academic, productive thinking, planning, communicating, forecasting, decision-making, implementing, human relations, and discerning opportunities. Several positive outcomes to this approach were postulated:
Anonymous (2001). Calvin W. Taylor (1915-2000). American Psychologist, 56, 519.
Taylor, C. W. (1968). Cultivating new talents: A way to reach the educationally deprived. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 2, 83-90.
Taylor, C. W. (1986). Cultivating simultaneous student growth in both multiple creative talents and knowledge. In J. S. Renzulli (Ed.), Systems and Models for Developing Programs for the Gifted and Talented (pp. 307-350). Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press.
Characteristics of Creative Scientific Talent:
Dr. Taylor conducted numerous studies to focus on identifying the criteria of creative talent in science. The study comprised of the collection of biographical information for over 2000 NASA scientists. The Biographical Inventory was a 300 item questionnaire which consisted of questions relating to the following areas: values, beliefs, parental information, childhood experiences, academic experiences, interests, self-descriptions and items leadings to satisfaction and dissatisfaction. This information would then lead to identifying the main experiences, self-descriptors and biographical nature to determine distinctions of highly creative individuals with the greatest creative potential in science.
Performance criteria for the study with NASA scientists are: criteria for records from
NASA research centers, data from publications and number of patents from scientists. Three
criteria to measure research were: creativity checklist, productivity checklist and creativity rating
scale. Correlation between creativity checklist and rating scale is .69. There was a .59 cross
validity correlation for predicting two creativity criteria of the best biographical score. This high
score provided valid results for predicting job placement, satisfaction and engagement in a new
field at the time. Revised Form B and Form C led to statistically significant cross validity
coefficients that indicated professional self-confidence, independence and autonomy,
respectively, were most valid predictors from the creativity criteria. It was concluded that the
highly creative scientists had similar characteristics of a creative person. They were very
confident in their abilities and work. They also held on their personal beliefs even if it meant
standing alone. They preferred working with a sense of independence and focusing solely on
their work while excluding other things with less priority for them. This study led to the early
identification of scientific talent through data driven decisions of developing summer programs
and fellowship opportunities for highly creative high school and college students.
Taylor, C. & Ellison, R. (1967). Biographical predictions of scientific performance, 155, 3766, 1075-1080.
Multiple Creative Talent Approach:
Dr. Calvin Taylor designed “Form U” to identify biographical characteristics to include:
areas of academics, leadership, creativity and the arts. Additional features of the form include:
vocational maturity and educational attainment. This form was useful the for developing the
Multiple Creative Talent Approach model in terms of identifying talents as an alternative for IQ.
It also has a significant predictive validity than any other single factor predictors. Form U has
been proven to measure giftedness for elementary and high school students, alternative for
standardized testing given its highly performance in academic achievement and career success.
Form U was instrumental to the development of the multiple talent teaching program which led
to the improvement of performance on standardized test scores for a district placed within low
socioeconomic status. The form would aid in the identification of areas of deficiencies to reduce
dropouts and truancies and focus on the development of the individual holistically thereby
leading to higher self-concept and self-development as a means for success.
The Multiple Creative Talent Approach was a teaching and learning approach for educators. Teachers would use the approach to nurture students into the development of a wide range of talents. This philosophy evolved from the fundamental belief that people have different talents and skills of varying degrees. This approach resulted in a focus of talents which would become useful for the workplace. These talents are: decision making, forecasting, productive thinking and communication. Other talents later identified were: planning, human relations and discerning of opportunities. Dr. Taylor believed that these skills are essential and should be developed simultaneously with academics. These skills are also important for helping to develop thinking skills necessary for evaluating knowledge in order to develop new knowledge or solutions for a problem. As a complex process, the approach would include cognitive, affective and psychometric measures.
Utah Scientific Conferences:
Led by Dr. Calvin Taylor, the scientific conferences were designed to identify
characteristics of creative talent and the research utilize to identify and nurture creative scientific talent. These conferences occurred as a result of Russia’s Sputnik launch in the early 1950’s and the United States’ attempt to respond in student preparedness in the sciences. There were three conferences held consecutively: 1955, 1956 and 1957 at the University of Utah. These
conferences were sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The conferences included
presentations from major contributors of the field to include: Morris Stein, Brewster Ghiselin,
Frank Baron, J.P. Guilford, Joe McPherson and Robert Wilson, to name a few. There were also
committee reports and group discussions on the research findings relating to scientific creativity.
Several scientists presented research on the following topics: personal characteristics,
identification of scientific talent, social and technological influences on creativity, environmental
factors and biographical information relating to military personnel and scientists. Dr. Taylor
presented preliminary findings relating to verbal fluency and expressional abilities. He presented
an understanding of productivity as it relates to creative abilities. One form of expressional
ability was ideational fluency. This work was originally started while working in Dr. L.L.
Thurstone’s lab in the research areas of verbal fluency and ideational fluency as a doctoral
student. The focus of the work was to identify numerous quality ideas to align as creative talent.
He also focused on expressional ability based on communication skills and would suggest the
need for scientists to improve measures for scientific reporting in order to become more efficient
at identifying scientific talent.
American Psychologist (1970). Richardson Creativity Award. pp. 96-99.
Shavinina, L.V. (2009). Kim. K. (Ed). The two pioneers of research on creative giftedness:
Calvin Taylor and E. Paul Torrance. International Handbook on Giftedness, Quebec,
Taylor, C. (1956). The 1955 University of Utah Conference on the identification of creative
scientific talent. Utah University, Salt Lake City.
Taylor, C. (1961). Research findings on creative characteristics. Studies in Art Education, 3 (1),
Taylor, C. & Holland, J.L. (1962). Development and application of tests of creativity. Review of
Educational Research, 32 (1), 91-102.
Taylor, C. & Ellison, R. (1967). Biographical predictions of scientific performance. American
Association for the Advancement of Science, 155, (3766), 1075-1080.
Taylor, C. (1956). The 1955 University of Utah Conference on the identification of creative scientific talent. Utah University, Salt Lake City.