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Creativity: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and How to Get More of It Jonathan Plucker, Ph.D. October 9, 2014 WATG.

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Presentation on theme: "Creativity: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and How to Get More of It Jonathan Plucker, Ph.D. October 9, 2014 WATG."— Presentation transcript:

1 Creativity: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and How to Get More of It Jonathan Plucker, Ph.D. October 9, 2014 WATG

2 Why Creativity?

3 Creativity helps us … n Solve big problems (Big C Creativity) –Global warming –Terrorism –Trade –Diplomatic confrontations –Military confrontations –Disease

4 Creativity helps us … n Solve little problems (little c creativity) –Traffic on the way to work –Lost on vacation when you do not speak the language –Personal problems –Making dinner with the wrong ingredients –Meeting client needs

5 n Creativity is a key outcome in most 21 st century skills models: –P21.org –UK, China, New Zealand, etc.

6 Why is Creativity Important? “He had only one idea, and that was wrong.” –Benjamin Disraeli, British prime minister n The more creative we are, we have: –more potential solutions to our problems –enhanced evaluative skills –the ability to sell our ideas more effectively

7 Trends in Creativity Theory and Research

8 Historical Perspectives n Creativity has been of interest in most of the world’s cultures for thousands of years. –Usually from philosophical or artistic perspectives. n The term “creativity” was probably first used by psychologists about 100 years ago.

9 Creativity Theory: The Golden Years (1920/ ) n For most of the previous century, the “Four P” approach dominated. –Person –Product –Process –Press (Environment) n Guilford, Torrance

10 Creativity Theory ( ) n With few exceptions, creativity theory and research languished during the 1970s and early 1980s. n Research focused on divergent thinking, both in assessment and education.

11 Creativity Today n In the late 1980s, a number of studies and theories emerged. –New emphasis on systems theories, which accentuate the role of the interaction between the person and environment. n Systems theories are very diverse –Economic and Psychoeconomic –Educational –Social Psychological n However, they all have the same general implications.

12 Lack of Respect for Creativity Research n Despite this rich history and all the current research – around the world – the field of creativity has serious problems: –Perception of creativity as conceptually and empirically weak –Conflicting research –Preponderance of myths and stereotypes about creativity

13 Troubling Myths and Stereotypes

14 Why are there so many myths about creativity? n Creativity is a construct that fascinates people. n Most cultures revere creative works and the people who produce them. n Both the creators and our societies like to keep the creative process mysterious. n Research has reinforced these myths (unintentionally).

15 The #1 Myth … n Creativity cannot be enhanced.

16 … Enhanceable? n You would be surprised at the number of people who believe that myth. n In fact, a surprisingly large % of my students don’t believe they are creative. n EVEN IN CREATIVITY COURSES!

17 An Alternative Model n Our work is based on the belief that we can make any person, any group, any family, any company, any classroom more creative.

18 Should you... n Tolerate Deviance? n Use Drugs? n Take Risks? n Tolerate Ambiguity? n Use Creativity Techniques? n Assess Creativity? n Avoid Evaluation and External Constraints? n Be of a Certain Age? n Use Your Creativity in Only One Area? n Work With Other People? n Market Your Creativity?

19 Should you... Tolerate Deviance? n Myth or Reality? Creativity is OK, but we need to guard against deviance. Myth!!!

20 Tolerate Deviance... n Excellence is not just being above average; excellence is diversity. n See Stephen Jay Gould’s Full House.

21 Tolerate Deviance... n Encourage eccentricity. n But remember that eccentricity may be a matter of personal preference.

22 Should you... Use Drugs? n Myth or Reality? Drug use enhances creativity. Myth

23 Use Drugs... n There is no convincing evidence that drug use enhances creativity. n Research suggests that drug use has a negligible short-term effect and detrimental long-term effect on creativity.

24 Should you... Take Risks? n Myth or Reality? Risk-taking is commonly associated with creativity. Myth!!! (sort of)

25 Take Risks... n Not all risk is created equal. n Blind risk-taking leads to injury and failure as often (if not more so) than to success.

26 Take Risks... n “Quitters never win, winners never quit, but those who never win and never quit are idiots.” n Risk management is associated with long-term creative production.

27 Should you... Use Creativity Techniques? n Myth or Reality? Creativity techniques enhance creativity. We do not know …

28 Creativity Techniques... n Brainstorming and other techniques may work, at least in the short-term. n Some is better than none. n If you think it helps, it probably does.

29 Creativity Technique Examples n Brainstorming n Cubing n SCAMPER n Creative Imagery n Blockbusting n Attribute Listing n Idea Checklists n Creative Dramatics n CPS Model n DeBono Framework n Synectics n Wallas Model n Consultant-of-the- month

30 Should you... Avoid Evaluation and n Myth or Reality? Creativity is enhanced when evaluation and external constraints are minimized. External Constraints? Myth!!!

31 Avoid Constraints... n How often in life do you work without constraints? n Many of the most creative things you’ve done have resisted the advice of others! n Draw a penny n Amabile replication example

32 Constraints... n Learn how to work creatively within the constraints imposed both by yourself and others. n When working with others, use sensible constraints and make sure that your expectations are clear.

33 Should you... Be of a Certain Age? n Myth or Reality? Young people are more creative. Myth!!!

34 Certain Age... n Relationship between age and creative accomplishment in some fields. n Lindauer has found that advanced age has little negative effect (and considerable positive effect) on creativity.

35 Creative Productivity Especially for women. Why?

36 Certain Age... n Frank Lloyd Wright example n Age brings experience; as long as it is tempered with a tolerance for ambiguity, it can only help to enhance creativity.

37 Certain Age... n Young people face the same issues. n An ambitious, talented young person can be seen as a real threat to a parent, teacher, professional, etc.

38 Should you… Work With Other People? n Myth or Reality? Working with other people enhances creativity. It depends.

39 Groups foster creativity when: n group members know each other well n the group and individuals have clear performance standards n individual performance is evaluated n group tasks are meaningful n group contribution is valued and rewarded

40 Groups do NOT foster creativity when: n people are told to “do your best” n group goals are lacking n people do not have the freedom to work as individuals within the group

41 Should you... Market Your Creativity? n Myth or Reality? One should never “sell out” their creativity. Really Bad Myth!!!

42 Market Your Creativity... n How do Eminent Creators become eminent? –They made sure that we believed they were eminent! n Gardner’s work n Michelangelo, Freud, Wright, Hawk, South Park guys examples

43 Our Research: Defining, Studying, and Enhancing Creativity

44 Why These Myths? n We believe the problems are due to the lack of a common definition. n Without a common definition of creativity, research only reinforces these stereotypes and myths.

45 A Definition of Creativity Should Be Able to Explain … n … that creativity may look different in different contexts. n … that creativity is the result of a diverse set of influences. n … that creativity is often in the eye of the beholder.

46 A Definition of Creativity Should Also Be Able to Explain … n … how the behaviors of a 10-year-old may be creative while the same behaviors by a 40-year-old may not be creative. n … why the work of schizophrenics may be original but not creative.

47 Our Definition n n Creativity is the interaction among aptitude, process, and environment by which an individual or group produces a perceptible product that is both novel and useful as defined within a social context. –Plucker, Beghetto, & Dow (2004)

48 Traditional Model of Creativity Training n First, teach students to use creativity techniques and strategies. –E.g., brainstorming, SCAMPER n Second, MAYBE practice applying these techniques in different areas. n Third, MAYBE examine how the environment impedes or promotes creativity n Fourth, MAYBE address beliefs and attitudes about creativity and problem solving

49 Our Model of Creativity Training Introduce creativity techniques in context when students are ready to use them psychologically Address attitudes and beliefs about creativity After opportunities to transfer, revisit process Introduce a proactive approach to interacting with and modifying the environment

50 Model vs. Traditional Approaches n Traditional Model: –Techniques, application, environment, attitude n Our Model: –Attitude, environment, techniques (all in context)

51 Where to go from here? n We can make any person, any group, any family, any company, any classroom more creative. n When we focus on external factors, we remove the responsibility for creativity from individuals and groups.

52 Where to Start? n Ensure students are not punished for providing an unexpected and potentially correct answer or using an unexpected strategy. n Include lots of real-world problem-based learning activities. n Provide students with opportunities to present and explain their work. n Create an environment in which students feel comfortable experimenting and possibly failing.

53 Just Do It!!! n “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” –F. Engels n Maslow example

54 Thank You Jonathan A. Plucker, Ph.D. University of Connecticut


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