Torrance Framework for Creative Thinking

A common framework for creative thinking processes is described by Torrance (1979). Each aspect is defined below, along with ways to facilitate the respective aspect by using key words and application activities.



Fluency refers to the production of a great number of ideas or alternate solutions to a problem. Fluency implies understanding, not just remembering information that is learned.

Key words

Compare, convert, count, define, describe, explain, identify, label, list, match, name, outline, paraphrase, predict, summarize.

Application activities

Trace a picture and label the parts.

Outline an article you find on your topic.

How many uses can you think of for a clothes hanger?

List 15 things that are commonly red or contain red.

Example: Apple, blood, brick, caboose, cherry, Christmas stocking, exit sign, fire alarm, flag, heart, red nose reindeer, rose, tomatoe, wagon.



Flexibility refers to the production of ideas that show a variety of possibilities or realms of thought. It involves the ability to see things from different points of view, to use many different approaches or strategies.

Key words

Change, demonstrate, distinguish, employ, extrapolate, interpolate, interpret, predict.

Application ideas

What would happen if ... there were no automobiles?

How would a ... dog look to a flea?

How is _______ like ________?

How would you feel if ... you were invisible for a day?

How would you group the ideas about "red" into categories?

Example: Fruit, safety features, vehicles.

Once categories are identified, fluency may be further demonstrated by generating more ideas about the idea red within categories. Even a modest attempt could result in the following lists, recognizing that the creative thinking process may shift the mind in a spiral way between all four aspects of creativity.

Red fruit Red safety features Red vehicles
exit sign
fire alarm
fire truck
stop sign
tail lights



Elaboration is the process of enhancing ideas by providing more detail. Additional detail and clarity improves interest in, and understanding of, the topic.

Key words

Appraise, critique, determine, evaluate, grade, judge, measure, select, test.

Application ideas

Tell your neighbor about your last family trip using as many details as possible.

What can you add to_______ to improve its quality or performance?

Describe all the possible characteristics of the red quality in a wagon.

Example: Shade, finish, texture, uniformity.



Originality involves the production of ideas that are unique or unusual. It involves synthesis or putting information about a topic back together in a new way.

Key words

Compose, create, design, generate, integrate, modify, rearrange, reconstruct, reorganize, revise.

Application ideas

Find an original use for_________.

What would be the strangest way to get out of bed?

Design a new___________ that is better than the one you have.

Write an unusual title for the ideas about red.

Example: Revolutionary "Red" Representation.

An overview of the four aspects of creativity appears in a PowerPoint presentation that may be downloaded from the following link: Creativity.ppt

An adaptation of the creativity aspects to the construct "jumping" appears in a Word document that may be downloaded from the following link: Jumping.doc

Torrance, P. (1979). The Search for Satori and Creativity.

© Steven A. Henkel, 12/02

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