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Get to Know our 2021 Commencement Keynote Speaker: Fredricka Reisman, PhD

Drexel University School of Education

Fredricka Reisman, PhD Drexel University School of Education Keynote Commencement Speaker

June 8, 2021

Fredricka Reisman, PhD, or "Freddie" as she is known to generations of students and colleagues, a world-renowned scholar in the field of creativity and founder of Drexel University’s School of Education, will address the class of 2021 at the school’s virtual commencement ceremony on Wednesday, June 9th, 2021. Dr. Reisman is a pioneer in the field of creativity having led the creation of the Reisman Diagnostic Creativity Assessment (RDCA) which is used throughout the world. Drexel University annually bestows the Freddie Reisman Faculty Scholarly and Creative Activity Awards in her honor.

Dr. Reisman has served as Assistant Provost for Assessment and Evaluation, Interim Associate Dean for Research of the Goodwin College, is the Director of the Drexel/Torrance Center for Creativity and Innovation, and creator of the School of Education’s Creativity and Innovation programs. She holds a BA in psychology with a minor in sociology, an MS in elementary education, as well as a PhD in mathematics education.

Prior to coming to Drexel, Dr. Reisman was at the University of Georgia for 12 years where she served as Professor and Chair of the Division of Elementary Education and worked closely with Dr. Paul Torrance who is known around the world as the “Father of Creativity.” After moving to Philadelphia, she was asked by the then Chair of Humanities of the English department at Drexel, Martha Montgomery, to teach English 101 even though her area was mathematics education. After stellar evaluations, she continued on to teach English 102. Soon after, the Vice President at the time asked if she would come be the “third leg of the stool” for the university’s computer program as a learning theorist. With a strong math and science background, Dr. Reisman was then asked by the leadership of the School District of Philadelphia to develop the Remedial Education Program (REP) curriculum which she implemented in elementary and six high school science subjects including, math, chemistry, biology, etc.

Due to her hard work and dedication to the world of creativity, Dr. Reisman has earned more than $13 million in federal and private grants to support her programs. “There’s 50 years of research that shows that teachers do not recognize their creative students,” said Dr. Reisman. “They may think that their creative students are those who smile at them, who don’t question what they say, who do not present behavior problems. Whereas creative students often daydream; they have a lot of energy, they don’t sit in their seat, and so the teachers label them as having behavior problems.”

One of her greatest accomplishments includes the creation of the Reisman Diagnostic Creativity Assessment (RDCA) which is a self-report assessment of research-based traits of creative strengths. It is a free, online self-report creativity assessment that provides immediate feedback and is diagnostic, rather than predictive. It has 11 factors that have emerged from research in creativity, such as, do you have original ideas? Do you have a lot of ideas which are fluent? Do you come up with different categories of ideas which are flexible? Can you resist premature closure? When asked what the most exciting part of developing the RDCA was, Dr. Reisman said that it was building the test based upon Dr. Torrance’s work and research on creativity, just as the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking was built upon Guildford’s work when he was the President of the American Psychological Association back in 1950. Dr. Reisman stated, “I wanted to give someone a chance to decide, “Okay, in my life or my work, I don't have to come up with a lot of different categories of ideas,” so, if you get a low score and flexibility and that's okay with you, that's fine. My goal was to put the test taker in control of themselves.” The next step according to Dr. Reisman is to make creativity more prevalent in the School of Education’s teacher education program. “I say you don’t have to have a separate course in creativity. You should model it; you should sprinkle it throughout and that has not happened yet and that is a goal that I hope we will be able to accomplish.”

One of Dr. Reisman’s biggest passions includes mentoring her students because she loves interacting with them. With her numerous years of experience in the field of education, she has many inspiring messages and tips for her students during their journey. Whether they are Undergrads, Masters, or Doctorate level, Dr. Reisman has always told her students, “You can do it!” She refuses to take no for an answer because she always has faith in her students. She has continued to push them beyond their limits. “Part of mentoring I think, is being tough when you have to be and being very supportive when you have to be.” That is one of many reasons why there is no one better suited than Dr. Fredericka Reisman, founder of the SOE, and a passionate mentor and leader to her students, to stand as the keynote speaker at this year’s commencement ceremony.

You can watch the livestream of the School of Education’s Commencement Ceremony at The ceremony will begin at 5pm ET on Wednesday, June 9th.