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Imagination is more important than knowledge - A. Einstein Creativity in Engineering Education EE 101, Fall 2014 University of Kentucky.

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Presentation on theme: "Imagination is more important than knowledge - A. Einstein Creativity in Engineering Education EE 101, Fall 2014 University of Kentucky."— Presentation transcript:

1 Imagination is more important than knowledge - A. Einstein Creativity in Engineering Education EE 101, Fall 2014 University of Kentucky

2 Ken Robinson on education & creativity History of engineering education in the US Creativity in contemporary engineering education Outline

3 (The following quote is from the web site of the United Kingdom Literacy Trust, November 6, See also "Sir Ken Robinson, chair of the UK Government's report on creativity, education and the economy, described research that showed that young people lost their ability to think in "divergent or non-linear ways", a key component of creativity. Of 1,600 children aged three to five who were tested, 98% showed they could think in divergent ways. By the time they were aged eight to 10, 32% could think divergently. When the same test was applied to 13 to 15-year-olds, only 10% could think in this way. And when the test was used with 200, year-olds, only 2% could think divergently.... Education is driven by the idea of one answer and this idea of divergent thinking becomes stifled.' He described creativity as the 'genetic code' of education and said it was essential for the new economic circumstances of the 21st century." signed: (TESS, 25 March 2005) Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity & Ed

4 Reference: – K. Kazerounian and S. Foley, “Barriers to creativity in engineering education: A study of instructors and students perceptions,” Journal of Mechanical Design, vol. 129, pp , July Surveyed nearly 500 faculty and students at University of Connecticut in Engineering, Humanities, and Science to determine how creativity is viewed and taught within contemporary curricula Important differences observed between these different areas of study Creativity in Engineering Education

5 Western engineers have a strong history of creating innovative and economically successful designs based on a strong knowledge of math and science – Electricity, airplane, space program, silicon chip, internet, ….. – ECE’s play a huge role! Significant creative work went into imagining and then accomplishing these achievements Where is creativity taught/encouraged in an engineering education? – Is it implicit/explicit, encouraged/discouraged? History of Engineering Ed in US

6 Historical Phases of Engineering Education – In the late 1940’s thru 1950’s, many engineering students were people that had had significant hands-on experience during WWII. Engineering education emphasized learning by doing and hands-on skills – In the 1960’s-1980’s, the space race, nuclear era, cold war, energy crises, and computers began to transform engineering education More complex applications exceeded limits of standard intuition and hands-on experience, and demanded a mastery of math & science Engineering education focused on mastery of applied math/science Theoretical aspects dominated engineering education – In the late 1980’s another shift began Industrial experts thought engineers lacked the skills needed to excel in an increasingly competitive environment Cited lacking skills such as critical thinking, team dynamics, cultural awareness, communication, creativity, economic analysis, etc. In response, engineering educators began to strengthen the “design components” of engineering curricula. Reflected in our curriculum as EE 490 and EE 491. History of Engineering Ed in US

7 These shifts in emphasis within engineering education have been reflected and driven by changes to the ABET criteria (ABET = Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology) Most recent update to ABET criteria was in 2000 Creativity is NOT directly addressed in the latest revision to the ABET criteria for engineering programs – Faculty tend to teach to things that are measured in course assessments – Creativity is not measured/evaluated directly History of Engineering Ed in US

8 Everyone knows creativity is important But there is some resistance – Perceptions Creative student work is sometimes misinterpreted by faculty Students sometimes take advantage of creative opportunities Ambiguity and flexibility is sometimes equated with lowering standards Creativity Valued in Engineering Ed?

9 Comments received from faculty and students (Kazerounian and Foley, 2007) – Engineering is serious business, and engineers must be accurate, not creative – Creativity leads to chaos and disorder in the school and later to design uncertainties and legal liabilities – Creative behavior contradicts engineering standards, which are the result of years of experience – Musicians, poets and artists do not build autos, bridges or cell phones – Anyone can produce a draft design, but engineers must rely on established procedures and precedents – Engineers’ work is too important to take risks Resistance to Creativity

10 Comments received from (Kazerounian and Foley, 2007) – The typical engineering program teaches that there is a known correct answer that we are aiming for and that we should find this particular answer as quickly and efficiently as possible – There is not much time for students to wonder, discover, and innovate – Engineering programs tend to be highly competitive and grades are important; grades will likely determine whether a student can stay in the program. Although it may be valuable to learn to work under pressure, such an environment also inhibits students from taking risks. Without learning to fail, students have an unrealistic view of what an engineering profession is truly about Critiques of the Curriculum

11 Comments received from faculty and students (Kazerounian and Foley, 2007) – Curiosity is limited to “how something works” rather than “if something could work”. Learning known solutions has become the norm without the balance of allowing students to keep that sense of wonder. – Most engineering faculty were educated in structured programs in which scientific and mathematical accuracy was the dominant factor. The current administrative philosophies in the schools of engineering and the evaluation, tenure and reward systems for the engineering faculty, further encourages such structured mindsets. Critiques of the Curriculum (cont’d)

12 Comments received from faculty and students (Kazerounian and Foley, 2007) – Women constitute a small minority among the engineering faculty. According to the American Association of University Women, they constitute between 3% and 15% of the engineering faculty. There is solid researched evidence that diversity and creativity of an environment are strongly linked. – Infusion of design activities in the engineering curricula has been in practice mostly limited to “synthesis” exercises using known methodologies. Capstone design projects in the senior year are very valuable exercises that widen the view for engineering students. However this stops short of embracing and harvesting creativity as an integral part of their four-year college education in engineering. Critiques of the Curriculum (cont’d)

13 Psychological research strongly supports the idea that creativity can be fostered within an educational program – Has been shown that teaching students creative problem solving methods increases innovative behavior Douglas Wilde of Stanford University (1993) – Showed that engineering ed inherently blocks creative potential ! – BUT, he has also shown that participation in a creativity workshop increases creativity Measured by the Myers-Briggs Creativity Index Original levels of creativity re-gained through workshop participation Fostering Creativity

14 Another study: Monash University (Australia, 1997) – Like Wilde, found that the environments of contemporary engineering programs tend to hamper creativity – Found that engineering students are NOT inherently less creative than students attracted to other programs – It’s the program/environment not the students Fostering Creativity

15 (Kazerounian and Foley, 2007) reported the results of a survey on creativity in education performed at the University of Connecticut – 400 students surveyed in Humanities, Sciences, and Engineering – 75 faculty from the same areas – Survey questions were designed to determine Student and instructor impressions of their classroom experiences The value they place on creativity Education and Creativity: A Survey

16 1.Keep an open mind 2.Ambiguity is good 3.Creative process 4.Reward for Creativity 5.Lead by Example 6.Learning to Fail 7.Encouraging Risk 8.Search for Multiple Answers 9.Internal Motivation 10.Ownership of Learning Ten Maxims of Creativity

17 Survey Results

18 Survey Results (cont’d)

19 Engineering students/instructors have the greatest number of disconnects – More instances where students feel a creativity criteria is absent, but the instructors do not – 7 for engineering, 5 for sciences, 3 for humanities Engineering students report the largest # of missing creativity Maxims – 9 (of 10!) for engineering students – 6 for science students – 2 for humanities Survey Results: Observations

20 Never a case when engineering students felt a creativity criteria was present in their education where science/humanities didn’t also feel the same – No unique strong point on the creativity criteria list for engineering All groups of students report that they themselves valued creativity Student perceptions of how instructors value creativity varied – Engineering students felt that instructors did not value creativity – Humanities students felt that instructors did value creativity – Responses from science students were inconclusive All groups of instructors report value in creativity, but the did NOT all see creativity in their students – Humanities instructors see creativity in students – Engineering and science instructors did not see creativity in students Survey Results: Observations

21 Engineering students are as creative as other students Engineering education tends to stifle creativity – Some schools are exploring changes to improve this situation (see work/education/the-olin-experiment)http://spectrum.ieee.org/at- work/education/the-olin-experiment This stifling can be reversed by (Wilde, 1993) – Exposure to a more creative environment – Teaching techniques that encourage creative thinking – Studying examples of creativity Summary

22 K. Kazerounian and S. Foley, “Barriers to creativity in engineering education: A study of instructors and students perceptions,” Journal of Mechanical Design, vol. 129, pp , July Primary Reference


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