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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

What is creative thinking?

What is Creative Thinking?

In their book, Richard D. Solomon and Neil A Davidson (2012) , Encouraging Skillful, Critical and Creative Thinking: Participant’s Guide Fourth R Consulting,  LLC, Tucson, AZ, wrote the following narrative about creative thinking:

1.     Creative thinking is the ability to create. It is the generation of an idea or product that is original, imaginative and uncommon. A creative idea or product is associated with the words or phrases listed in the above box.

2.     Creative thinking involves creating something new or original. It involves the skills of flexibility, originality, fluency, elaboration, brainstorming, modification, imagery, associative thinking, attribute listing, metaphorical thinking, and forced relationships. The aim of creative thinking is to stimulate curiosity and promote divergence[1].

3.     Creative thinking refers to:
·      Specific thought processes which improve the ability to be creative.
·      Being in an optimal state of mind for generating new ideas.
·      Thinking deliberately in ways that improve the likelihood of new thoughts occurring.
·      Maximizing the ability of the brain to think of new ideas.
·      The ability to think of original, diverse and elaborate ideas.
·       A series of mental actions which produce changes and developments of thought.
·      The process of exploring multiple avenues of actions or thoughts[2].

Torrance on Four Simultaneous
Dimensions of Creativity

A well-known framework for creative thinking was developed  by Paul Torrance[3] in 1979. His creative thinking  processes involve four dimensions or  cognitive attributes which occur simultaneously and in no specific sequence,  order or hierarchy. They are  fluency, flexibility, elaboration, and originality.  These four dimensions are defined below, along with key words and application activities.
Definition: 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. In group brainstorming, individuals are contributing to a group/class list, without judgment, either positive or negative. Accordingly, the facilitator acknowledges (i.e. "thank you") or records each idea presented by the members of the brainstorming group.  This component of fluency recognizes the valuable contribution of each participant and does not stop  the generation of new ideass  Note: The evaluation of ideas occurs at the end of group brainstorming.
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, tomato, wagon, etc.

Definition: 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 and  shifting perspectives.  Flexibility refers to the ability to use many different approaches or strategies for problem solving.
Key words: Change, demonstrate, distinguish, employ, extrapolate, interpolate, interpret, predict.
Application ideas
What would happen if ... (e.g. there were no automobiles)?
How would a ... (e.g. dog) look to a  ... (e.g. flea)?
How is _______ like ________?
How would you feel if ... (e.g. you were invisible for a day)?

Definition: 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.

Definition: 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. An original idea should be (a)  useful in that it meets a need, (b) understandable in that its purpose or function is clear,(c) unusual in that it is perceived as  being  both novel and attractive, and (d) user-friendly in that easily applied by the consumer or operator of the product or service.
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.


Alternative perspectives, at the edge of possibility, big picture, building on the ideas of others, different intelligences, different modalities, divergent, encouraging, far-out, fertile,free, fresh, generative, global, imaginative, inviting, making associations, making links or connections, multicultural, multi-dimensional, new combinations, new perceptions, new ways of viewing, non-judgmental, non-linear, not either/or, not exclusive, not forced choice, not polarized, open, open to possibilities, reorganization of reality, search for new meaning, shifting viewpoints, speculative, thinking outside of the box, unbounded, unconfined, unconventional, unrestrained, unrestricted, and unusual

In the next post we will explore additional definitions and resources for creative thinking.

[1] Taken From Retrieved January 30, 2009.
[2] Taken From Retrieved January 30, 2009.

[3] Torrance, Paul (1979). The Search for Satori and Creativity. Buffalo, NY: Creative Education Foundation.

[4] This chart was adapted from this website: Retrieved January 30, 2009.
* These ideas on creative thinking through shifting viewpoints, perspectives and associations are printed with permission given by Ramsey, D.L. (1998). Making Connections: Structures and Strategies for Integrated Teaching and Learning, Morristown, NJ: Center for Lifelong Learning, Inc., 50-52.

*     Printed with permission given by   Ramsey, D.L. (1998). Making Connections: Structures and Strategies for Integrated Teaching and Learning, Morristown, NJ: Center for Lifelong Learning, Inc., 36-37.
*    Printed with permission given by Ramsey, D.L. (1998). Making Connections: Structures and Strategies for Integrated Teaching and Learning, Morristown, NJ: Center for Lifelong Learning, Inc., 54.
* Reprinted with permission from Dr. James Bell, Professor, Howard County Community College, (1997). Teaching Students to Think Critically by Using Active Learning and Cooperative Learning, Presentation at the First Annual Lilly Conference on College Teaching, Towson, Maryland, March 4, 1997.

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