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With a group of students in one of my technology classes, we explored the concepts of creativity and divergent thinking by having them create stop motion animation movies. I first gave a brief lesson on stop motion animation, and let them play using the iPads in class. During the next class, I was joined by my colleagues Tracey Hunter-Doniger and Nenad Radakovic. We explained that we wanted them to create some representation of randomness using stop motion animation. That was all we told them and then we let them play again with the tools.
We used the design thinking philosophy to guide instruction as students worked with the tools. Design thinking is an approach to learning that focuses on developing the creative confidence of students (Kröper, Fay, Lindberg, & Meinel, 2010) Design thinking can be defined as “a team-based innovation method [that] helps deal with complex design problems by sustaining in-depth learning processes on problem perception and diverse solution paths” (Kröper, Fay, Lindberg, & Meinel, 2010, p. 1). In this approach, teachers and students work collaboratively to engage in hands-on design challenges that focus on the development of several key characteristics that influence creative confidence (e.g., empathy, bias toward action, ideation, metacognitive awareness, and active problem solving) (Watters & Ginns, 2000; Ertmer & Ottenbreit, 2010).
Creativity & Divergent Thinking
In this work, we believed that creativity and divergent thinking live in a nexus together and we wanted to explore that connection. More importantly, we wanted to explore that interconnection with our pre-service teachers.
The nuance between divergent and convergent thinking is baked into the world and the ways in which we learn. The roots of pedagogy are informed by the ways in which we generate ideas (i.e., divergent thinking) and analyze ideas (i.e., convergent thinking). Divergent thinking is the ability to generate new and creative ideas by exploring numerous possible solutions before identifying one that works (Cooperrider, 2008). Divergent thinking includes messy stages of thinking in which the learner accesses and processes the ideas and perspectives of others to gain fresh perspectives and insights from which new ideas can be generated (Beckman & Barry, 2007; Benson & Dresdow, 2014). Convergent thinking is the ability to actively solve a simple, well-defined, accurate answer to a problem (Cooperrider, 2008). Convergent thinking is focused on action and outcomes of a specific learning task while reviewing the timescale (Watson & Geest, 2005). Capacity for divergent thinking may be improved through the careful use of digital texts and tools like tablets and mobile devices to solve real world problems in STEM education (Ni, Yang, Chen, Chen, & Li, 2014).
As a fluid yet complex construct, creativity is considered a desirable quality in our society (Puryear, Kettler, & Rinn, 2017). Creativity has been associated with individuals gains in intelligence, emotional capacity, and academic performance (Henriksen, Mishra, & Fisser, 2016). Our society maintains high regards for individuals with a creative yet efficient flare, those that design inventive products that are advantageous of the profitable company or the busy family. Throughout time, creativity has also been associated with the concept of change, propelling society into new periods based on the birth of inventions and/or fresh ideas (Henriksen et al., 2016). Without creativity, we could hypothesize that we all would still be living in the “caveman” days living with the bare minimum ideas to merely allow us to survive. The evolution of creativity has lead us into the 21st century where technology has transformed the way we live as well as the way we think and learn.
Once again, we submitted our work to the International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science, and Technology for a special issue on iPads/tablets in education. This work was conducted with my colleagues Hunter-Doniger and Radakovic. We were joined by three incredible research assistants, Madison Fox, Reggie Kern, and Stephanie Parnell.
Please feel free to review and respond to our work here. As we proceed through the peer review process, we’ll update this post and the included manuscript.
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