Thursday, December 11, 2014

TIMizing Springboard: Teaching Creativity to Adults Creatively Using the Torrance Incubation Model

By: Kristen Peterson
Graduate Student
International Center for Studies in Creativity
Buffalo State College

This Master’s project describes the ways in which the Torrance Incubation Model (TIM) was used to enhance the Springboard into Creative Problem Solving (CPS) course. Springboard is the introductory course that has been taught at the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) for over sixty years.  The finished project includes development of a turnkey Springboard program that includes instructional design, course materials, and a communication campaign that overlays the Torrance Incubation Model (TIM) on how the Springboard program was taught and delivered at the CPSI 2014 Conference.

TIM was used to enhance the experiential nature of the Springboard course. The Heightening the Anticipation stage was to help participants come ready, prepared and motivated to learn. The Deepening Expectations stage was to deliver a more deliberate participatory immersion into the exploration of CPS. The Extending the Learning stage was to motivate participants to keep on learning both during and after the Springboard program (Keller-Mathers & Murdock, 2002).

Current teaching at CPSI is based on and has evolved from the teaching philosophies of our founders and historical pioneers Alex Osborn and Sid Parnes. Osborn founded theCreative Education Foundation (CEF) in 1954 and launched the CreativeProblem Solving Institute (CPSI). Parnes joined him the next year and became a guiding force for both CEF and CPSI. Parnes was named director of the CPSI in 1956. With Ruth Noller, he also established what is now called the International Center for Studies in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State paving the way for its Master’s Degree Program in Creative Studies and this Master’s project. After Osborn died in 1966, Parnes published the Creative Behavior Guidebook (Parnes, 1967a) and the Creative Behavior Workbook (Parnes, 1967b). These works encapsulated the many years of learning by Osborn, Parnes, and their many associates.

In parallel, one of their colleagues, E. Paul Torrance, a prolific creativity researcher and author, conceived what has become known as the Torrance Incubation Model (TIM) (Torrance, 1979). Torrance’s Model served as a guideline to develop instructional materials and learning activities for teachers that would facilitate creative thinking before, during, and after a lesson (Torrance, 1979).  

The introductory course at CPSI—Springboard—as it was named in 1979, evolved over time. From the 1980’s until 2005, there was no established instructional design. Rather, leaders assigned to teach the course were matched up into teaching teams when they arrived at CPSI. These leaders then spent the next few days developing their course design. The participant experience during these years varied depending on the knowledge, skill and dynamics of the leader teams. Since 2005, efforts have been made to ensure greater consistency in the creativity content taught and how the learning experience is delivered. This project will take it to the next level.

My personal motivation and passion for this project stemmed from my experience as a Springboard participant in June 2000. My aunt, a long-time CPSI leader, persuaded me to attend. Quite bluntly, my Springboard experience was a train wreck. I was in a class being taught by four first-time leaders as part of an experimental program called SpringLab. I can still vividly recall our first CPS process run-through using the challenge “How might I enter my fat dachshund in the dog Olympics.” Somehow despite this disappointing course, I connected to the broader CPSI experience, and my desire to learn more was kindled. I continued to take courses at CPSI at both the winter and summer conferences and upon completing the required courses was invited to be a Springboard leader in 2004. Though I’d completed all of the required courses, I really didn’t begin to know how to teach CPS to others. Fortunately, I was teamed with two exceptional, experienced leaders who trained me on the job.

Never forgetting my own train wreck experience, I’ve made it my personal mission to ensure greater quality in how and what we teach. However, what was still missing from my Springboard teaching experience was the ability to make the learning stick. 

In May 2013, an envelope arrived at my home with an assortment of brightly colored 5 x 7 sheets of paper with timelines. This was part of a Heighten Anticipation activity for the upcoming course in 560 Foundations of Creative Learning, a graduate course at the International Center for Studies in Creativity (ICSC). This was the start of my introduction to E. Paul Torrance and the Torrance Incubation Model of teaching creativity. Like many graduate students before me, I quickly fell in love with Torrance and TIM. This course was a transformational experience for me in how to teach creatively. I immediately started to think about ways to apply this new learning to how we teach at CPSI.

Application of the Torrance Incubation Model overlay was a solid first-year effort, and it created a foundation for further enhancement in how we teach creativity more creatively in the Springboard program and across all CPSI programs.  

In his Creative Manifesto, Torrance (1983) advised on the importance of falling in love with something. Perhaps the greatest joy of this project has been the opportunity to immerse myself and fall in love with the writings and teachings of Parnes and Torrance.  

To extend your learning, read the entire Master’s project paper in Digital Commons at

Keller-Mathers, S. & Murdock, M. C. (2002, Fall). Teaching the content of creativity using the Torrance Incubation Model: Eyes wide open to the possibilities of learning. National Association of Gifted Children’s Celebrate Creativity, 12(2), 7-9.
Parnes, S. (1967a). Creative behavior guidebook. New York, NY: Scribner.
Parnes, S. (1967b). Creative behavior workbook. New York, NY: Scribner.
Torrance, E. P. (1979). An instructional model for enhancing incubation. Journal of Creative Behavior, 13 (1), 23-35.
Torrance, E.P. (1983). The importance of falling in love with “something”. Creative Child and Adult Quarterly. 8(2), 72-78.  

Kristen Peterson is a creativity and innovation facilitator, trainer, coach and catalyst. She is a founding partner of kpCatalyst, on the Board of Directors of Facilitators Without Borders, a founder of Mindcamp, the Director of the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) and is currently studying toward a Master of Science in Creativity at SUNY Buffalo State College. She can be reached at and

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